#867 Mystery Behind the Wall by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Mystery Behind the Wall by Gertrude Chandler WarnerMystery Behind the Wall by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens have a Canadian friend coming to stay awhile. There’s a room that hasn’t been used in a while that he can stay in. The kids help clean it up. When the kid gets there, they decide to make a communication device, a tin can telephone. They figure they can pass a string through the closet, but there’s something strange about the closet. It kind of sounds hollow behind it. They soon find a note and some clues.

It turns out grandfather bought the house from someone else and a little girl used to live in the room. She didn’t play with dolls, like a lot of other young girls; she liked to collect coins. She wanted to leave a scavenger hunt. The Aldens start following her clues. Their progress is hindered by the fact that Grandfather added rooms onto the house at one point, so some of the original parts of the house are covered up. The Aldens figure it out, like usual, but they have a great time.

What I liked

Sometimes I really like the idea of having a really old house. There’s no telling what mementos of the past you may find in crawl spaces and attics. The Aldens finding something from a girl who used to live in their house is actually pretty neat. All I found when I moved into my last house, that I used to have, were some x-rays. Part of me doesn’t like the idea of having an old house because it’s probably haunted. I’ve recently read a whole lot of true ghost stories in an online article, and let me tell you, I wouldn’t want a lot of those experiences happening to me. Some of them I would be fine with, but the rest of it–no way. So I imagine that if, for some reason ,I bought an old Victorian houseĀ  it would probably be haunted and not like fun haunted, like awful, nightmare-inducing haunted. I’d have to call a priest and a bishop, one of them could exorcise the ghost and the other could fight it, hopefully, I’d end up ghost free in the end.

What I didn’t like

The little girl’s story seems a little sad.

Oh, and there the Aldens go, being spoiled again. Oh, we just happen to have this extra bedroom lying around. There are five people in the house and they have an extra bedroom. Unheard of, seriously. There were six people in my house growing up and we only had four bedrooms and one bathroom. The Aldens probably have like six bathrooms.

Overall

Maybe there’s a cool scavenger hunt in your house, but as luck might have it, it’s probably just a scavenger hunt to the previous tenant’s toenail collection.

Weigh In

If you found a scavenger hunt in your house, would you do it?

Do you think the Aldens are spoiled?

#867 Mystery Behind the Wall by Gertrude Chandler Warner was originally published on One-elevenbooks

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#865 Bicycle Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Bicycle Mystery by Gertrude Chandler WarnerBicycle Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens decide they’re going to go a bicycle trip by themselves. They camp out along the way. They also pick up a strange dog. The dog is grey and looks fancy, but the Aldens have no idea where the dog came from. He obeys very well. People start asking about the dog. They eventually get to a town with a dog show to find out that the dog is some type of show dog, but they still don’t know where he came from. They found him in an abandoned house.

They keep asking around and eventually hear about someone who lost their dog, but it seems really far away. Could these people really be the dog’s owners?

What I liked

Dogs are fun. I don’t know so much about dog shows, as it does seem somewhat pretentious, but dogs themselves are pretty nice. I’ve had my share of dogs over the years and my current dog is a pug. They’re noisy little dogs.

What I didn’t like

Who would let kids go off on a long bike ride like this alone? I get it if you’re an adult and you want to go cross-country biking, but children going cross-country biking seems dangerous. First of all, people driving are crazy and there are some places bikes just don’t belong on the road. Twisty and turny roads with no shoulder are no place for bikers. Do the kids know this? Do the kids know what to do if someone forces them off of a road? What about if they crash? What if someone steals their bikes? There are a whole lot of questions involved in this cross-country biking thing that are difficult to answer even if there are adults doing the biking.

Overall

Let’s go ride bikes, but not on the road.

Weigh In

Would you let your kids go on a cross-country bike ride?

Would you have been responsible enough as a teenager to handle a bike trip like the Aldens’ bike trip?

#865 Bicycle Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#863 The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret AtwoodThe Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Charmaine and Stan live in their car. Stan used to have a job, but he lost it. Charmaine works in a bar. Lots of people don’t have jobs. People live in their cars. Gangs roam the streets rampant and intent on victimizing anybody to make their lives just a little easier.

There’s something going on, an experiment. It’s an experimental community. The community provides jobs and a place to live, the only catch is that every other month you have to go to prison. Husbands and wives are separated. Another couple lives in the house when the first couple is in prison. They’re called alternates.

Life goes ok for a while. Stan works with chickens and Charmaine does something in medication administration. Things start to get a little weird though. A friend had told the couple not to go into the community because it was dangerous. Everything is bugged. People are expected to behave a certain way. Charmaine soon meets the alternate man who lives in her house when she’s not there. The two start an affair, always meeting in abandoned houses, without bugs, or so Charmaine thinks.

This is just the beginning though. It turns out the alternates in Stan and Charmaine’s house are activists and Charmaine and Stan are getting dragged right along with them. Soon the couple is learning about strange sex robots and bran surgery that makes a person imprint on another person. There are sex robots that look like Elvis and they’re a big hit. There’s something even more nefarious going on in the community that involves human beings. Charmaine and Stan are going to play a part in putting a stop to it.

What I liked

I do tend to like most things that Margaret writes and this was no exception, although it’s a little strange. There was definitely humor in this book. Who would think that sex robots that looked like Elvis would be a huge hit? It certainly doesn’t float my boat.

Margaret is looking at a financially depressed society in this book. It’s not now and it may not be ever, but it could be. It’s actually quite plausible. If we had a more significant economic collapse where would people live? It’s very possible that many people would end up out in their cars and on the streets. Is there the potential for humanity to be taken advantage of during this time period? Could humans be placed in facilities to live and work? Yes and yes. If you listen to conspiracy theorists out there, the government has something called FEMA camps, which is where we’re supposedly going to go after we’re rounded up by the government for whatever reason. Is it true? I have no clue.

In this book’s case, the community is run by a private organization, no doubt with backing from various politicians. It’s for profit. There’s nothing magnanimous about this. It’s too good to be true and everyone there should be worried about it.

What I didn’t like

It’s a bit of an awful thing when one part of humanity thinks it can take advantage of another part of humanity for whatever flimsy reasons it gives. In this case, some people were so poor they couldn’t make it on their own, so it’s ok to prey upon them and essentially herd them up like cattle. Not cool.

The thing is, I think there would be some people who would take advantage of others in these situations. Would it be on the nightly news? Maybe not, but I think it would happen.

Overall

If they say they’re going to give you a job and pay your rent, there’s probably a catch so big it could fill Rhode Island.

Weigh In

If you were broke, would you take your chances in a community like the one in this book?

Do you think some people just wait for unfortunate societal circumstances to take advantage of others?

#863 The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#862 Blue Bay Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Blue Bay Mystery by Gertrude Chandler WarnerBlue Bay Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Grandfather has a surprise for the Alden children, which is a relief because they were wondering what all the whispering was about. It turns out Grandfather has planned a trip for them all to the South Pacific. Their bags are already packed and on the boat. The Aldens only have to get on it, because Grandfather is made of money and he can do things like this.

The boat trip is delightful and the Aldens find a small island to live on for a time. There’s no one else there, or so they think. When things start going missing from their camp, they start wondering. There’s a Myna bird that can talk and it keeps talking about Peter. Who in the world is Peter and why does a bird know his name?

What I liked

I used to live in the Pacific, not the South Pacific, more like the north Pacific. I lived in Okinawa for three years; it’s a subtropical island. It’s a nice place to live for a while, or just visit. I would definitely like to see more of the Pacific one day.

What I didn’t like

Seriously, what the heck–where does Grandfather get all this money? Maybe, he’s selling some of that Uranium to the Russians. Grandfather has a Uranium mine, if you didn’t know. Do you know how expensive it is to go to the pacific islands if you live in the States? Try around $1300, at the least, for plane tickets. Renting a boat, to sail on, to the south Pacific–lots of money. Hardly anybody has this kind of money. It’s certainly not a normal occurrence for children. Children’s books should aim to parallel a child’s life to some degree. Imagination is nice, but a child needs to be able to relate to that character, in that book, in order to take any lessons to heart.

Overall

Sure, everyone can just get on a boat and go to the South Pacific.

Weigh In

Would you drop everything and go to the South Pacific?

Would you live on a small island?

#862 Blue Bay Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#860 The Lighthouse Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Lighthouse Mystery by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Lighthouse Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens have just visited their aunt and are on their way back home. They find a lighthouse and decide to rent it. They stay there two weeks. There are some strange goings on, as usual. There’s a little boy who doesn’t go to school, but he wants to. His dad won’t let him go. The Aldens poke their noses in that.

What I liked

Staying in a lighthouse could be cool for a while.

What I didn’t like

Honestly, this book and the ghost ship book ran together. I had to actually look up what this book was about after I read it, because it was unremarkable compared to the previous Boxcar Children book I read. Sure, lighthouses are cool, but what family has the money to just randomly go stay somewhere two weeks?

Overall

It’s probably haunted, oh wait, Grandfather doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Weigh In

Would you stay in a lighthouse?

Do you know anyone who can up and decide to randomly go on vacation for two weeks?

#860 The Lighthouse Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner was originally published on One-elevenbooks