#844 The Mystery at the Alamo created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Mystery at the Alamo created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Mystery at the Alamo created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are going to Texas, because Grandfather is made of money. They’re going to see the Alamo and learn its history. They soon make friends with someone who works at the Alamo and a film crew filming a movie about the Alamo at the Alamo. One of the actresses is a nice young woman, but it seems her days are always being booby-trapped. The hot rollers went off. There was a mouse in her dressing room. The steps were broken. It was just one thing after another. Her understudy seems awfully suspicious, but what about the other actor who insists that she’s not a real actor?

On top of all of that, there’s an artifact from the Alamo being used in the movie and it goes missing, of course. Can the Alden children figure out what all is going on, in addition to being child extras in a movie?

What I liked

It’s nice that a bit of history was included in this book. It would have been funnier had they met Hank Hill.

What I didn’t like

Look here, the Aldens are awfully privileged kids. Not only does their grandfather have tons of money, apparently, which enables them to go all kinds of places, but Grandfather also encourages the children, by allowing them to solve mysteries and do things like be in movies. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a “I’m kind of envious” thing. My mom was never like, “Oh, you like this thing, so let’s go get you lessons, or let’s go do this activity.” Nope. Each child is not a special little snowflake, but shouldn’t children be encouraged to pursue talents and interests? I wasn’t raised in an environment that fostered my creative and intellectual growth; the Aldens are.

Overall

Remember the Alamo.

Weigh In

Were you encouraged as a child to pursue interests and talents?

If you were not encouraged, do you think your life would be better had you been encouraged?

#842 The Clue in the Recycling Bin created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Clue in the Recycling Bin created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Clue in the Recycling Bin created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens have some things to recycle, so of course they head down to the recycling center. They didn’t know that there were things set aside that other people might be able to reuse. They each find something interesting to take home. They meet another boy there as well. There’s a mystery afoot though–each morning, there are bags of leaves scattered everywhere. The bags are broken and no one knows why. Soon a theft is made known, but what does it have to do with the recycling center? Why do people want Benny’s Piñata so much?

What I liked

Reusing stuff is the way to go. If you can find a new use for something old, that’s great.

I kind of liked that a piñata was a central plot point in this story. It’s a pretty darn important piñata and that’s just hilarious.

What I didn’t like

Honestly, this one doesn’t have a lot not to like in it. Out of the laundry list of Boxcar Children books I’ve read this year, I think this one might be one of the better ones.

Overall

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle–by your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!

Captain Planet

He’s your hero

Gonna take pollution down to zero

Weigh In

Have you ever found something interesting at the recycling center?

Have you found a new use for some item that you’re really proud of? If so, what did it used to be and what is it now?

#839 Houseboat Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Houseboat Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerHouseboat Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are renting a houseboat, because Grandfather is just rolling in the money. This particular houseboat can be renamed by whoever is renting it. The Aldens take the opportunity to rename it every day. They pick up supplies first. There are important safety measures on the boat like a bucket of sand and a fire extinguisher. The sand can smother small fires.

Everyone is soon exploring and talking to the locals. Some strange stuff starts happening though. Some things start to go missing. Where did those things go? Those things are closer than the Aldens think.

What I liked

I remember there being something I was going to comment on in this book, but I forgot what it was. I think it had something to do with how boats and ships are supposed to work. Whatever it was, I was going to commend the author for doing the research on it. So if you read this book, there is something about boats that is true.

What I didn’t like

Good Lord, where does Grandfather get all this money? Where does he get all this vacation time? The Aldens are so super spoiled. I actually wouldn’t like to go on a houseboat. I think it would be boring. A tiny house would be better, at least you can leave the tiny house and go take a walk. You can’t do that if you’re in a houseboat.

Overall

Everyone needs a handy-dandy bucket of sand.

Weigh In

Would you vacation on a houseboat?

Do you like boats?

#838 The Ghost in the First Row Created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Ghost in the First Row Created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Ghost in the First Row Created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Alden children are helping out at a local theater. The actors are quite skilled for a small production. One of the actresses speaks of a ghost in the theater. As things progress, there are strange happenings in the theater. A hat ends up where a hat should not be. They all wonder if it’s a ghost, or if it’s something else. The Aldens will find out though.

What I liked

For some reason, theater is surrounded by ghosts. You don’t have to believe in ghosts for this statement to be true. There are lots of ghost stories surrounding theater. If you go to any theater of any age, there are probably rumors that it’s haunted, or stories people have about strange things happening to them. Tragedy often follows theater and there have been those instances where people have taken their lives in theaters and some stay they stick around for many more performances, even after they’re long dead. Maybe it’s all the emotion in a theater that causes ghost stories. Maybe it’s the long hours rehearsing and three times running through an entire play in one night.

With all this said, I do like the idea that the Aldens poked at the tradition of ghosts and the theater.

What I didn’t like

Why can’t the Aldens be a little more open to the supernatural? Sure, we can be all science and whatever, but there’s still a little supernatural in our lives. Somebody we know, or love, has a ghost story, or an alien story, or a leprechaun story, or a big foot story. We just kind of accept it because we can’t explain it. We can cast doubt on it, sure, but we can’t entirely explain it away. This doesn’t mean that big foot is real out there; it just means we can’t say for sure what exactly happened to our friend, or loved one, and that’s the woo about the whole thing. I wish the Aldens would be more open to accept that strange things happen, rather than solving everything. Sometimes, you can’t solve everything and you can’t find all the answers.

Overall

That theater is probably haunted.

Weigh In

Have you ever done theater in a haunted theater?

Do you think it’s part of life to accept that you can’t explain everything?

#837 The Legend of the Irish Castle created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Legend of the Irish Castle created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Legend of the Irish Castle created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are in Ireland, in a castle, no less, because Grandfather is loaded as all get out. There aren’t many other people in the castle. There’s a couple on their honeymoon and the caretakers, but that’s about it. There are a few other people around town. One guy isn’t very friendly. The children start hearing rumors about banshees and ghost dogs. They see a hooded woman walking in the fog. They hear a strange noise, could it be a banshee?

The banshee’s are a problem because they often portend bad things. The Irish can be very superstitious. The Alden children aren’t familiar with all of the superstitions and make a few blunders as far as luck is concerned. The children start poking around, as usual, and they come up with some interesting stuff.

What I liked

The author did actually do a good job of doing research for this book. I am not familiar with all of the superstitions mentioned in the book, but some of them I am and the rest sound like a real thing. I don’t think the author just made them up. It’s nice that whoever it was took time to do the research. All that lore about banshees does exist and they are considered bad luck, or portents of death.

What I didn’t like

Why must these children get to go everywhere? Grandfather has got to be simply rolling in the money to be able to take this many people to Ireland to stay in a castle.

Overall

Maybe that scream you heard in the night was a banshee or maybe it was just a hold-up at the 7-eleven.

Weigh In

Would you stay in a haunted castle?

What do you think of banshees?