#901 The Perilous Road by William O. Steele

The Perilous Road by William O. SteeleThe Perilous Road by William O. Steele

Chris is living with his family in the Eastern Tennessee mountains during The Civil War. Chris says he hates the union soldiers. He hates that they come and take what they want from farms. He hates this his neighbors didn’t do anything about it when the soldiers came and took their food. They say the soldiers were just hungry. Chris doesn’t think the Union soldiers need his sympathy, or anybody’s sympathy for that matter.

His brother joins the military to be a wagon driver. Chris finds out that a wagon train is coming through so he wants to warn the other side so there will be an encounter, so he tells a neighbor who says he is a spy. When Chris finds out there is an actual battle going on in the area, he takes off trying to find his brother, not thinking that his brother would still be in training.

When he gets to the battle, he  encounters soldiers from the north, who treat him well and are suffering from the war just the same as anybody else and Chris feels he needs to rethink his position on the other side.

What I liked

I’m not a typical war person, but I’ve read a few novels set during The Civil War. This one wasn’t bad. Chris is being hard-hearted, just as many people tend to be when they think they’re on the right side of something. He finds out that things aren’t so black and white. Just because someone is fighting on the other side, doesn’t mean that they’re not human. They need the same things all humans need. They have the same feelings all humans have. People dying because of a war are people dying because of a war, it doesn’t matter what side they’re on.

I really liked that Chris’ eyes were opened. Just because someone is your enemy politically, doesn’t mean that they’re your personal enemy.

What I didn’t like

Chris’ attitude is all to common. Sometimes we tend to think that our opinion is the correct one and whoever thinks differently is our enemy, and therefore, evil. We don’t stop to consider that maybe both sides are correct in one way or the other, or, that our side is actually the evil side. If we believe something very intolerant and expound upon that belief as the correct one and consider anyone who is more tolerant to be evil, isn’t the more intolerant view the more evil view?

Chris was young and sometimes as younger people we tend to hold onto our “beliefs” as we consider them as if they’re immutable, when, in fact, our beliefs change and grow as we gain experiences in life. Chris did just that in this book.


It doesn’t matter what side you’re on; we’re all people.

Weigh In

Did you find that your younger self was too idealistic and strict in your views?

Is everybody the enemy on the other side?

#901 The Perilous Road by William O. Steele was originally published on One-elevenbooks


#900 Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

Pollyanna by Eleanor H. PorterPollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

Pollyanna’s mother has died and she’s going to live with her spinster aunt. Nobody can say Aunt Polly is too pleased about it, but it’s her family duty. Pollyanna arrives talking a mile a minute. It seems she never shuts up. She has this game she plays. It’s the Glad Game. She tries to find something to be glad about in every situation.

Pollyanna starts visiting people around town. At first, people are sour about her Glad Game, but some of them start catching on. They find reasons to be glad.

She even befriends the local grumpy man, who becomes so enamored with Pollyanna that he invites her to live with him. There is a romantic mystery involved as well. Aunt Polly used to love someone, but was it the grumpy man or the doctor?

Tragedy strikes and Pollyanna has trouble finding reasons to be glad, but the other people she taught to be glad, show her how to be glad again.

What I liked

There is certainly a lesson to be learned from this book. There is usually something good about everything. You could say you’re looking for the silver lining or being optimistic or being thankful. No matter what you call it, it’s finding a way to pick the good out of all situations, even the awfully, horrible ones. This can be really difficult. Sometimes, you just know– you just know, that something is going to turn out awful and there isn’t a lot to be happy about in those situations. Is trying to be happy in a situation like that better than letting the misery of it compound? I don’t know.

What I didn’t like

Pollyanna seems like the kind of kid who would tire you out after five minutes of being around her.

She reminds me of my youngest brother in that aspect. My youngest brother is autistic. When he was younger, for some reason, he had diarrhea of the mouth. We would go on long car trips to Atlanta, to go to dollar stores(not making this up, my mom loves $1 stores), and he would talk incessantly. We would ask him to be quiet, which worked for about three minutes, then it would start up again. Pollyanna reminds me of those types of situations.

What happens to Pollyanna is really sad. It’s heavy for a children’s book, but so is Leslie’s death. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve read the book I referenced. I think I’m right there with Pollyanna on this one, what is there to be glad about in this situation? Are you even supposed to be glad in a situation like that? Isn’t it perfectly legitimate to feel sad sometimes? I believe Mister Rogers said it was ok to be sad sometimes, so you kind of have to take his word for it.


I’m glad that Pollyanna does not live with me.

Weigh in

Are children who talk incessantly, although not particularly misbehaved, difficult to deal with?

Do you try to be glad about all things in life?

#900 Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#898 The Summer Camp Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Summer Camp Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Summer Camp Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are going to summer camp at a camp that has an Olympic competition each summer. Things don’t go well from the start. Their luggage is lost. The flag, which was Henry’s responsibility, disappears from his cabin.  Someone steals one of their ideas. The Aldens aren’t sure who seems to be sabotaging their camp experience.

What I liked

Ah, camp shenanigans — like the time we stole a girl’s panties and ran them up the flagpole, complete with passive aggressive notes. She wasn’t very nice.

Part of camp is about pranking other campers, which is something the Aldens have not escaped.

What I didn’t like

I don’t feel like there’s a lot of content to this book. Maybe it was just my mindset while reading it.


You’re probably going to get pranked at camp.

Weigh in

Did you ever go to camp?

Did you play pranks at camp, if you went?

#898 The Summer Camp Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#897 The Creature in Ogopogo Lake created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Creature in Ogopogo Lake created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Creature in Ogopogo Lake created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Grandfather is visiting his friend, Abby, in Canada. Of course the children are going along. Abby owns some cottages along Lake Okanagan, which she rents to cryptid hunters. Those hunters come to the lake in search of Ogopogo, the sea creature, or lake creature, as it may be. Business hasn’t been good though and Abby will probably have to sell her resort.

Some people say a good Ogopogo sighting would help business pick up. The Alden children, who are against people selling their resorts and hotels, volunteer their services to help Abby keep her resort, but strange things start happening. Can the Aldens get to the bottom of all that is strange? Will they see Ogopogo?

What I liked

Ogopogo is real, or, rather, Ogopogo is a real cryptid, which means you cannot confirm or deny that Ogopogo is real. You can Google Ogopogo and will find that he’s basically Canada’s version of the Loch Ness monster. Again, no one can prove or disprove the Loch Ness monster or Ogopogo. You’ll just have to wonder.

There are multiple Native American stories about lake and sea monsters. Ogopogo probably started as just such a thing.

What I didn’t like

I need to make a big list of all the things the Aldens get to do that I didn’t get to do as a child, or that many of us didn’t get to do as children.

Otherwise, I don’t think this one was bad, although, it’s kind of a jerk move to sabotage someone’s business, lake monster or not.

Oh, and, if the Aldens are so anti-ghost, do you think that a lake monster would ever be real in the world of the Aldens? Lake monster are not something people readily believe in.


Come and see the lake monster; you can stay at my hotel.

Weigh in

Would you ever believe in a lake monster?

If lake monsters were real, do you think it would change your view of reality?

#897 The Creature in Ogopogo Lake created by Gertrude Chandler Warner was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#894 The Vampire Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

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

The Aldens learn about a local author who wrote a vampire book. They get to meet him, but he’s having trouble selling his house. Things keep happening. Someone steals his for sale signs. Plants get pulled up. Strange things keep happening in general. There are whispers that it could be a vampire, as the author based the house in the book on his own home, complete with  a graveyard in the backyard. Can the Aldens get to the bottom of this undead mystery?

What I liked

This is one of The Boxcar Children books where the author tries to mix in a little “woo” to the very realistic world of the Aldens. While I appreciate the effort, because it does spice things up a bit, I don’t think it worked.

What I didn’t like

I am not a huge fan of the idea of vampires. I do not understand the obsession. The United States doesn’t have a huge history of vampires. If you visit places like New Orleans, there’s a bit more local lore about vampires than the rest of the United States. We simply don’t have that local history of vampires like Europe does, or even places besides Europe. Vampires have stories from all over the world.

The author tried to bring some “woo” into this book, but it doesn’t work because we know the Aldens are just going to figure out that it’s something logical. The same thing happens with the other Boxcar Children books that mention ghosts or banshees as possible culprits in weird goings-on. Does the author expect me, or anybody, to actually believe the Aldens are going after a real vampire, or ghost, or banshee? There is a running story element in this book series in which the phrase, “Ghosts aren’t real,” is repeated over and over again; vampires certainly aren’t going to be real if ghosts aren’t.

Unlike Scooby Doo, where there are some actual ghosts and monsters from time to time, the Aldens have regular, old human culprits all the time.


A vampire did it…oh, wait, it’s just a guy.

Weigh In

What do you think about vampires?

What do you think about series, television or book, that present themselves as logical and real that try to throw in the supernatural as an actual story element?

#894 The Vampire Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner was originally published on One-elevenbooks