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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Classics and Questions

I'm having a bit of a tired week. Can't seem to get myself moving after work at all. Some weeks are like that.

But it means I did not get out and find anything interesting to take pictures of. Instead here's a picture of some books I'm reading my way through.

Boxcar Children books

These are the classic Boxcar Children series of children's books. So how come I never knew anything about them until a few months ago? The time frame is right. The series was begun in 1942. Some of the books were written after I would have been reading things for this age group, but the first four were in print when I was in grade school. The author is Gertrude Chandler Warner.

Since I read every children's mystery in the public and school libraries, most twice or more, I have to wonder why they didn't have these books. They're certainly totally wholesome- no questionable philosophies.

I know I would have liked them. They have light mystery and adventure and kids fending for themselves in a fairly realistic setting. Everything that appealed to me.

Now for questions from a different direction. Questions for me as an author. The four siblings are introduced in the series ranging in age from 15 down to 6. But the reading level seems to me to be barely third grade. It's about a step above Run, Spot, run. I'm not really saying this in a critical manner because they have stood the test of time. Kids seem to love them. Maybe the oldest brother, Henry, and sister, Jessie, provide a safety net for the adventures they find, since Violet (age 12) and Benny (age 6) probably couldn't be as independent as the foursome are together.

Next question. It feels a bit as if the author is talking down to kids in the story. Or maybe that's just the tone that was set in the 1942 book, and she needed to maintain it for the series. There's an awful lot of repetition of mundane dialog. I realize that appeals to small children, but it seems as if the target audience is older than that. So my question to myself is- what tone do my children's books have? And is it an appropriate one? The tone of the Dubois Files is certainly more mature than these. Kids reading them who are reporting back are liking the books. So, although different, I don't think I've missed the mark.

I don't need to feel that my interior illustrations are sub-par because they are amateur (me). The editions of the Boxcar Children that I'm reading have updated covers, but the original interior illustrations. Some of them aren't all that great.

Here's something I do have a slight issue with. It's not singling out this series, but is true of so many stories like this. The kids are able to take on so many adventures because their families have money. Of course, in the first Boxcar Children book, the siblings are homeless. But then they go to live with their grandfather who is rich. Nancy Drew's father was a lawyer and she never had a problem getting things she needed or getting help in a pinch. The Hardy Boys' father was a famous detective- although mostly absent- but as the series progressed the boys did more and more things that were out of reach of most of their readers. They went to foreign countries, went scuba diving, etc. I'm glad to tell you that except for some school field trips, or maybe summer camp or family vacations, the Dubois Files kids and their families are middle class at best and won't be needing passports or (probably) the FBI or expensive specialty gear.

Got one review of The Secret Cellar- five stars! Hooray! But it's going to take a lot more marketing work to get the general public to begin buying these, except from me personally. Have to break through that barrier.

Now I have three little computer tasks to do, but other than that, I'm going back to reading children's books for the rest of the day.

See Initial philosophy of the Dubois Files
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1 comment:

Ann said...

I remember reading the Boxcar Children when I was in school. I loved those books. It's been a long time so I can't really recall the tone of the book, I just remember liking them.

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