#807 The Mystery at the Crooked House created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Mystery at the Crooked House created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Mystery at the Crooked House created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are visiting another friend. This friend has a crooked house. The man who made it wasn’t a carpenter, so some things aren’t entirely straight. The family member who currently lives there, rents rooms out, like a bed and breakfast. The problem is that there is a new hotel or something in the area and people may not want to stay in the crooked house, which could mean that the family would lose the house because they couldn’t afford the upkeep. Supposedly, there is a secret to the house, complete with riddles. The secret may just save the crooked house.

What I liked

I like the idea of a crooked house. One time, I went to Blowing Rock, North Carolina. There is a crooked house there. It’s called the Mystery Vortex; it’s not that far from the Tweetsie amusement park. Anyway, there is nothing mysterious about it. It’s not ghosts that made it all wonky. Someone built it at odd angles that trick your brain. You think you see water going uphill and brooms standing on their own and all sorts of things. It’s all a trick of perspective. You know it’s all scientific when you get there, but it doesn’t stop you from being completely disoriented by it.

What I didn’t like

Just make a few substitutions in this book and you’ll have the last Boxcar Children book I read. We might lose the house. Oh no! Someone is being nefarious about the house for selfish reasons. Oh no! There’s a secret treasure to the house that just might resolve everything. Yippee! Seriously, all you need are a few substitutions and you have the other book. Whoever wrote this one got a little lazy.


They found the treasure.

Weigh In

Do you think all old houses should have a mystery?

Should the house always get saved?

#806 The Mystery at Peacock Hall created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Mystery at Peacock Hall created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Mystery at Peacock Hall created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are going to Monticello, to visit somebody grandfather knows. She lives pretty close to Monticello and actually works there. In case you didn’t know, Monticello is the house that Thomas Jefferson designed, and worked on for many years, in addition to getting in on with his special ladies there. There are plenty of quirky things about Monticello, as the Aldens soon find out. Thomas Jefferson was an inventor. He tried to invent a clock, but part of it ended up on a different floor.

The problem with the whole thing is that their host is about to lose her house. She owes some back taxes. Another relative wants to buy her out, for a fraction of what it’s worth. She has until the auction to pay the taxes. Her house is called Peacock Hall. Supposedly, there’s a treasure in the house somewhere. The Aldens set about looking for it in hopes that the tax bill can be paid. Some other strange stuff goes on as well. Someone may or may not be living in the smoke house. Is there really a treasure of Peacock Hall? Will that peacock let Benny have one of his feathers?

What I liked

Ok, so the part about Thomas Jefferson getting it on with his special ladies at Monticello was not actually in this book, but I thought I’d enlighten anyone who didn’t know. Thomas Jefferson had at least one child, that looked a lot like him, besides the obvious difference in skin colors, with one of his slaves.

What I didn’t like

Property taxes are stupid. So you buy a house and then you pay it off, but you still have to pay the government, every single year, otherwise they’ll take your house, even though it’s good and paid for. Jerks. I think if you own your house, you own your house, or you should own your house. There shouldn’t be any of this, “Oh, you forgot to pay your taxes, so we’re auctioning off your house, even though the taxes you owe are like a thousand dollars, which is a small fraction of what the house is worth and what you’ve paid on it.” This is just one example of how our government infrastructure is a bit broken. A lot of those property taxes go to schools, but you still have to pay property taxes even if you don’t make use of the schools in any manner.

I don’t find it likely that the woman in this story would be offered any kind of extension, especially since an auction was already scheduled. I think the government would just be like, “Too bad, you had your chance.” They don’t care if you’re losing a house that has been in the family for generations.


If only there was some mystery treasure in the house I live in.

Weigh In

Do you like peacocks?

What do you think about property taxes?

#804 Monkey Trouble created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Monkey Trouble created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerMonkey Trouble created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The zoo is having a contest. The deal is that you buy a disposable camera from the zoo, take pictures, and then submit the entire camera to the zoo. he winner gets a year pass to the zoo. The Aldens only have enough money for one camera, so they decide to share the winnings, if they win. There are a couple of other friends around. There is a friend named Blake who insists that he needs two cameras. There is another friend who is a swimmer practicing for sporting events. She doesn’t really have money for a camera. The contest lasts a couple of days. One day, Blake discovers one of his cameras is missing. Who has it?

The Aldens start checking around. They have several suspects, but there are reasons each of the suspects do not have the camera. At one point a monkey escapes and it turns out the monkey has quick fingers, that do steal things. Is the camera with those things? Did someone take the spare camera or did a monkey do it?

What I liked

I like zoos. I’ve actually been a couple of times in the past couple of years. One day I went with my friend to a zoo in South Carolina where we encountered a woman, by herself, squatting down in front of a tortoise and talking to it as if it were a baby or small child. “You’re just a baby. I bet your daddy was a hundred and fifty years old.” I am not even beginning to joke about this. There were no children with the woman, nor was there even another companion with the woman. Apparently, she just liked to go to zoos, by herself, and talk to reptiles like they were babies. Maybe she did the same thing with all the snakes.

The last time I went to the zoo was with my boyfriend, stepdad, mom, and niece. My family couldn’t decide what they wanted to do, but they finally decided on the zoo, which was over an hour away. The problem with this is that it’s always going to take more than an hour to drive there and that my family takes forever to go anywhere. Several hours, I’m serious. I’m not even joking. When I want to go somewhere, I put on my clothes and go. My family does not do this. My mother takes at least an hour to get ready; I’m not even sure what all she is doing during this time. She doesn’t curl her hair. It’s not like she’s in their contouring like a Kardashian. I just have no idea. It’s like the entire family can’t get moving without first watching a movie, fiddling with random junk, and taking an excessive amount of time in the bathroom before getting out of the door. How long does it take to put on clothes? Ten minutes–that’s how long.

We finally made it to the zoo after many stops, but there were only about two hours left in which to see the zoo. So we had to speed-admire the animals. Oh, it’s a tiger, well lets move on. If you look to your left as we’re zooming by, you can see the gorillas, next stop, the pandas. We didn’t have time to go gift shopping. We didn’t have time to do much. There was this conversation with my boyfriend on whether or not I could just wear my undershirt out in public, it was hot. Turns out that it was way too thin. So we got to the zoo and then we left the zoo, about two hours later. A bunch of kids started showing up as super heroes, I’m not really sure what was going on. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly the most relaxing experience. Do not go to the zoo with my family. If they ask you, pretend you’re busy. Go to the zoo by yourself.

What I didn’t like

This was kind of a rip off. We’re having this photography contest. Buy a camera from us, then take pictures. We’ll use your picture on promotional items and you get a zoo pass. That doesn’t sound like that great of a deal. Oh, and we’ll get children to do it.


Meerkats are fun. I think I could have a pet meerkat and it would be great.

Weigh In

Do you like to go to the zoo?

What would you want as a prize for this contest?

#800 The Midnight Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Midnight Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Midnight Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Alden children are going to an invention convention. The idea is that people can enter inventions and other people will look at them. They’re staying at a locally famous inventor’s house. There are all sorts of interesting things there. There are clocks that do things that clocks don’t normally do.

The children find a book of rhymes, for children, which seem kind of nonsense, but when they start hearing about a plan book that is missing, the Aldens start poking around. The rhyme has something to do with 12 o’clock. Which clock? Which 12? What’s going on?

What I liked

I like the idea of being creative and inventing things. I consider myself highly intelligent and I like the idea of being an inventor. My boyfriend, Grizzly Pirate Wynn, recently lost his father, who was an inventor, like a real-life, honest to God, inventor. Hearing about all the things he’s invented, make me feel like a slacker. I’m not an engineer, by any means, but I wouldn’t mind being an inventor.

I think it’s great that this book encourages kids to wonder how things work and wonder if they can make something better.

What I didn’t like

As usual, there was some fuddy-duddy who decided that they had an issue with something someone else was doing and tried to cause problems.

How about just not being a jerk? It could solve a whole lot of problems.


I would hide something weird in a clock.

Weigh In

What would you invent, if you could?

Is science an area you feel children should be more encouraged in?

#796 The Panther Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Panther Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Panther Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are going to Florida. Benny wants nothing more than to see a real live alligator. The reason the Aldens are going to Florida is because one of Grandfather’s friend’s kids, a park ranger, is missing, well, he didn’t turn up for work and he hadn’t for several days. The Aldens know him as responsible, even though a fellow park employee paints him in a less than stellar light.

The Aldens meet a girl from the Panther tribe. She says she knows the missing park ranger. They also talk about Florida panthers, which are rare. Many of them are chipped and tracked. It seemed that the missing ranger was rather interested in them. Benny changes his mind. He wants to hear a panther now, because alligators are boring. The Alden family venture into the swamp, on a camping trip, to find a missing ranger.

What I liked

The bit about the panthers was neat. I knew of them, but not a lot. My uncle actually saw one around a place I used to live. They’re fairly rare these days.

What I didn’t like

This wasn’t a huge mystery.


A Florida mystery–more like–where’d Fluffy go? Oh, he got eaten by an alligator.

Weigh In

What is your opinion on panthers?

Do you like Florida orange juice?