The Boxcar Children are in for an extra-special surprise! They are going on a trip on a huge cargo ship to a deserted South Seas island. While fishing and exploring the island, the children discover clues that it isn’t deserted after all!
About the Author
The Boxcar Children Series was created by Gertrude Chandler Warner, a teacher, when she realized that there were few, if any, books for children that were both easy and fun to read. She drew on her own experiences in writing the mysteries. As a child, she had spent hours watching trains near her home, and often dreamed about what it would be like to live in a caboose or freight car. In each story, she chose a special setting and introduced unpredictable, unusual or eccentric characters, to help highlight the Aldens’ independence and resourcefulness. Miss Warner lived in Putnam, Massachusetts until her death in 1979.
Read an Excerpt
One winter day Jessie Alden met her brother Henry in the hall.
She said, "Henry, I think Grandfather is up to something. Violet thinks so, too."
"What do you mean, Jessie?" said Henry. "Do you mean business trouble?"
"Oh, no! Not at all!" said Jessie. "I think he is planning something. He jokes with Benny all the time. And he smiles to himself when he thinks no one is looking."
Henry said, "I hope he is happy. What else have you noticed?"
"Last night Grandfather was at the telephone in the hall. When I came down the stairs, he stopped talking suddenly.
"Then the other day a strange man came to see him. He was a very big, strong man. I could hear his deep voice. He laughed all the time. Jolly, you know. Grandfather laughed a lot, too," said Jessie.
"Maybe you are right," said Henry. "I'll keep my eyes open, too. He will tell us if there is anything he wants us to know."
Henry did watch his grandfather after that. It was true. Mr. Alden seemed very happy. Once he started to say something. Then he stopped.
Then at last, one day in January, the same man came to call. Mr. Alden took him into the front room and shut the door. He took the stranger's hat and coat and hung them up. He gave him an easy chair.
The four Aldens would have been surprised to hear what their grandfather then had to say to the stranger.
He said, "My grandchildren love to see new places. They love adventure. They love boats. Henry is the oldest, and he and Jessie go to high school. Violet comes next and Benny is the youngest."
The man smiled. "So they all like adventure!" he said.
"Yes, but best of all, they like to make something of nothing. Do you understand what I mean?"
"Yes, sir! I understand very well, Mr. Alden. I understand because I am just like that, too! I like to make a fine fish pole out of a stick, a string, and a bent pin. I like to make a plate out of a flat stone."
"That's exactly right, Lars!" cried Mr. Alden. "You do understand."
Lars thought for a minute. Then he went on. "I think you want your grandchildren to have an exciting time, but you don't want them in any real danger."
"Right again!" said Mr. Alden. "Shake hands, Lars! And now I'll call them. You can watch them when I tell them!"
Mr. Alden opened the door and shouted, "Benny! Get Henry and Jessie and Violet. All of you come down. I want to tell you something."
The four Aldens were soon in the front room.
"Jessie, Violet, Henry, and Benny, this is Lars Larson," said Mr. Alden smiling. "He is your friend from now on."
Lars shook hands with them all. He said, patting the dog, as everyone else sat down, "And this is Watch. I know him, too."
Grandfather said, "Now I am going to tell you about a plan."
"I told you Grandfather was up to something," said Jessie.
"Did you, my dear?" said Mr. Alden. "Well, we are all going on a trip. Lars is going with us. He has already been where we want to go so he can tell us all about it."
"How are we going on the trip?" asked Benny. "On a plane? On a ship?"
"Both," said Mr. Alden smiling.
"And where?" asked Benny.
"We are going to an island in the South Seas," said his grandfather.
"Oh, boy!" cried Benny.
"I'll tell you all about it," said Mr. Alden. "I have to go to San Francisco on business and I thought it would be fun for you to go with me. Then suddenly one of my business friends said his company's ship was going to Tahiti about that time, and did we want to go along? We would be the only passengers. So I said yes."
"So we are going to Tahiti!" said Henry.
"No," said Grandfather. "My friend told me about his first mate, Lars Larson.
"Three years ago, Lars was shipwrecked on a beautiful island in the South Seas. The ship hit a reef and two men were lost. One of them was Lars."
"He doesn't look lost," said Benny.
"No, the two men landed on this beautiful island in a lifeboat. The others were picked up by other ships. Lars and the other man lived on the island until a ship came and picked them up, too.
"Lars has told me all about the beautiful island. It is very safe, for nobody lives there. There are no dangerous animals. There is water, enough food to live on, and Lars would like to go there again for a vacation."
"And we're going to this island?" asked Violet softly.
"Right!" said Mr. Alden. "The Tahiti ship will take us there, and come and get us on the way back."
"Oh, what a wonderful idea!" cried Jessie. "We do love to see new places!"
"And we love ships!" said Henry. "You knew that, Grandfather."
"Yes, and who else do you think is going?" asked Mr. Alden with a laugh.
"I don't know," said Jessie, laughing too. "We never could guess."
"Mike!" said Grandfather.
"Mike!" yelled Benny. "Oh, boy! My old friend, Mike Wood. I would like that best of anything in the world. Mike and I could have a neat time. We're just the same age!"
Henry said, "This is such a grand surprise. You say we are going to fly?"
"Yes, we will fly from here in New England to Chicago. We will pick up Mike there, and go on to San Francisco. Then we will take the ship."
"But what about school?" asked Henry.
Benny shouted, "Oh, we stay out of school! That will be cool! You can tell our teachers that we are going to the South Seas, Grandfather."
Henry said, "Everyone in your school will know about the South Seas in just one day, Ben."
Mr. Alden laughed too. He said, "Let me tell you about school. I began this plan a long time ago. I talked with your teachers. They gave me all your lessons until you come back."
"Do we have new schoolbooks?" asked Jessie.
Mr. Alden smiled and said, "Yes, the books are right on the table."
He gave each one a paper book. Henry's was dark green, with HENRY on the cover in gold. There was a violet book with VIOLET on the cover, a blue one for Jessie, and a bright red one for Benny.
"Better not look at them now," said Mr. Alden. "They are very interesting. Every day on the boat you will study these books."
"A Boat School, Benny," said Jessie. She was afraid Benny would not like this.
"A Boat School!" cried Benny. "That will be fun, but we won't have school on the island, will we, Lars?"
"There will be no time, my lad," said Lars. "You'll be busy finding something to eat. That will be school enough. How about a lesson right now? A boat is not a ship. A boat can be carried on a ship. Our ship is too big to be carried by another."
"Oh, I get it," said Benny. "Then we'll call the school a Ship School."
"Almost, Benny," said Lars. "A sailor would say, Ship's School."
"That's neat," said Benny, "Ship's School!"
"Is the island beautiful, Lars?" asked Jessie. "Palm trees and everything?"
"Oh, yes," said Lars. "That's why I want to see it again. I'm glad to spend my vacation there with you. We can go fishing, too."
"Fishing!" said Henry. "Ben and I love to fish."
"And Mike. Mike loves to fish, too," said Benny. "Good old Mike! I can't wait to see him. Grandfather, you know it's awfully hard for me to wait for anything. When are we going?"
"Next week," said Mr. Alden laughing. "I know you can't ever wait. So that's why I didn't tell you before."
"We'll have to pack soon," said Jessie.
"No, that's another thing," said Mr. Alden. He looked at Jessie, the perfect housekeeper. "You see you will need other clothes for the ship, and still others for the island. It is very hot there. So your Cousin Alice packed your summer clothes and they have gone already. You will find them on the ship."
"What a grandfather!" said Henry.
"Can Watch go?" asked Benny.
"Sorry, my boy. Let me tell you about Watch," began Mr. Alden.
"And now I know he can't," said Benny.
"No, he can't," said Mr. Alden. "Watch wouldn't like the plane, or the boat, or the island, really. Mr. and Mrs. McGregor need a watchdog and we don't. Mike can't take Spot either."
"That's good," said Benny. "No dogs at all. You can't go, Watch."
"Watch has gone to sleep on my foot," said Lars.
"That means he likes you," said Jessie.
"I'm glad of that," said Lars. Watch lifted his head. Lars patted him and said, "Goodby. I have to go now, Watch."
"Yes, Lars has work to do," said Grandfather. "We will meet again in San Francisco."
They were all sorry to see Lars go. He was already a good friend.
When Lars had gone, Henry looked at Jessie and Violet and said, "Aren't we lucky to have a grandfather who takes us on a trip, and helps us go to school just the same?"
Jessie smiled at her brother. She said, "I was thinking the same thing. What a lot of surprises Grandfather thinks of!"
But nobody knew then what the biggest surprise was going to be.
Not even Grandfather. Not even Lars.
The next week soon came and the Alden family sat eating breakfast. Mr. Alden said, "You will not go to school today, for we leave tomorrow. You have many things to do."
"What?" asked Benny.
Grandfather laughed. He said, "For one thing, Benny, look under your chair."
Benny turned upside down and looked. "Oh, boy!" he cried. He pulled out a little bright red suitcase.
Henry looked under his chair. He pulled out a green suitcase just like Benny's.
Jessie laughed. She knew what she would find. She did find a pretty blue suitcase, and Violet found a violet one.
"From you, Grandfather?" asked Violet.
"No, they are not," said Mr. Alden. "Your cousins Alice and Joe sent them to you. You will each need a small bag for the trip."
"What about old Mike?" said Benny.
"Well, old Mike has one too," said Mr. Alden smiling. "His is dark red and yours is bright red. I hope you boys won't fight over them."
"Oh, no," said Benny. "We never really fight. We just have fun. I can always tell mine because I like bright red. It is like the fire house."
"You can tell yours because it says B. A. on it," said Henry. "Probably Mike's has M. W. on it."
"Yes, that is so," said Mr. Alden. "Today you can pack the bags. Put in only what you really need."
"Our books for one thing," said Jessie. "I can hardly wait to see what is in that new schoolbook."
"Yes," said Mr. Alden. He looked at Jessie and Henry. "Those books are really wonderful. I think your first lesson should be a letter to your teachers. You can say thank-you for all their hard work. Then later you can thank them again, when you see the books."
"What about Mike's writing, too?" asked Benny.
"Look here, old fellow!" cried Henry. "You worry too much about Mike!"
"I think he ought to do what we do," said Benny.
Grandfather patted Benny's shoulder. "You may be sure he will, Benny," he said. "Mike and I have been writing letters to each other for a long time."
"I thought I saw Mike's writing!" said Benny. "I saw it just yesterday when I gave you the mail!"
"That's right," said Mr. Alden. "Mike is packing his red suitcase this very day. When we land at Chicago, Mike will be there waiting."
It was very exciting to take the plane. It was a jet. Stairs were put in place against the airplane door.
The Aldens went up the stairs with their bags.
"The first time we ever went on a plane!" cried Benny to the stewardess.
She laughed. "You'll like it," she said.
Mr. Alden had been on a plane many times. He could answer all Benny's questions. At last the plane rose in the air. They were off!
"I'll bet old Mike will be scared!" said Benny.
"We'll soon see," said Mr. Alden. "We will see Mike in just a short while."
When the plane started to go down, they all looked out of the windows. Suddenly Violet said, "There's Mike with his dark red bag!"
"He doesn't look scared at all," said Jessie. "And do try to be nice to him, Benny."
"Oh, of course I will," said Benny. "He'll love this jet! I'll tell him it will say woosh! and we'll be there."
Mike was delighted to see Benny again. The two boys sat together and talked all the time. Mr. Alden had a seat to himself and slept.
"Did you get a schoolbook, Mike?" asked Benny.
"Yes, I have it right in my new bag. Your grandfather asked my teacher to write it for me. It has lots of pictures in it, too."
"There! You looked, Mike! Grandfather said not to look until we were on the boat!"
"Careful, Ben!" said Henry.
"I didn't look very much," said Mike. "I just saw one picture of a big fish."
"A fish!" said Benny. "What a schoolbook! I suppose mine is different."
Soon they had lunch. Then the plane began to go down again.
"So many exciting things," said Jessie. "We don't have time to think."
"You will have plenty of time when you get on the ship," said Mr. Alden.
Jessie was right and Mr. Alden was right. They landed. They said good-by to the stewardess. Mr. Alden got a car to take them to the ship. The ship's name was the Sea Star, and they were soon on it.
"Here we are!" said Mr. Alden. "And here is your friend, Lars!"
Lars was in uniform.
"You look different, Lars," said Benny.
"Yes, my lad. I'm a sailor now. I'm still First Mate on this ship until we get to the island. This is Captain Brown."
The Captain shook hands with them all. He seemed to know all their names.
"This ship is very big, isn't it, Grandfather?" said Benny.
Grandfather laughed. "Yes," he said. "It is not a passenger ship. It is a big freighter, but it's very clean and very safe. And it will take us where we want to go. Not many ships can do that, for very few ships go to that island."
"We want to go to a beautiful desert island, Captain," said Mike.
"And that's where we will take you," said Captain Brown. "You are the only people on the ship, except the crew. Lars will show you where you eat and sleep."
The boat rocked gently at the dock. Jessie and Violet had one very small room. Benny and Mike had another very small one. Henry and Mr. Alden each had a room to himself.
"We can take only eight people," said Lars. "The cargo takes up a lot of room on the ship." There was still room on deck for seven long chairs.
Soon there were six people in the chairs. The men shouted and threw the ropes over on the deck. The freighter began to move.
"Here we go!" sang Benny and Mike together.
They were chugging under the beautiful Golden Gate bridge into the great Pacific Ocean!
Sea gulls flew after the boat, screaming. The cook threw out food for them. They screamed louder and louder. More and more came, until there were hundreds.
"Aren't they beautiful!" cried Jessie. She went over to look. A big gull landed on the rail near her. "They are such a lovely gray color."
"How long will this trip be, Captain?" asked Henry.
"About two weeks," said Captain Brown. "Then we'll put the family off at the island, and the Sea Star will go on to Tahiti."
"Who is the family?" asked Mike. "Am I in the family?"
"Of course," said Benny. "I wouldn't go without you, would I?"
"Then the Sea Star will come back for us," Henry went on.
"Right. You will be alone on the island with Lars for two or three weeks. I understand that's what you want?"
"Yes," said Jessie. "We love to live like that. We like to find our own food and dishes, and we love to explore."
The sunset came then. It was beautiful. The whole sky was red and pink and violet. "We never saw anything like that at home," Violet said.
It was beautiful after the sun went down. The sky was black, but the stars were wonderful.
Benny said, "I never really saw the stars before. I didn't know they were so bright."
The Captain said, "You can see the same stars here that you see at home. Later you will see stars you never saw before. I will show you the Southern Cross."
Everyone was tired. They slept well all night. The next morning after breakfast a bell rang.
"What's that?" asked Mike. "It sounds like a school bell!"
"I think it is a school bell," said Henry laughing. "Look at Grandfather. He is ringing it."
Mr. Alden said, "School will begin at nine o'clock every day. You can sit in your chairs and get your lessons. You will find things you need in this box."
In the box were pens, pencils, paints and all kinds of paper.
Jessie opened her blue book. "Well, well!" she said. "Here is Lesson One about gulls and stars and fish!"
"That's the picture I saw!" cried Mike. "It's a flying fish."
Soon everyone was busy reading. After a while Violet got up. She took a box of paints out of the box. She began painting a picture of a sea gull. Henry soon began making a picture of the Big Dipper in a black sky. The boys drew pictures of flying fish.
"A whale!" called Lars. Everyone rushed to the rail.
"It is very near!" shouted Mike. "Look at that tail!"
"There he goes, spouting water!" said Henry. A lot of water rose in the air. Then came the porpoises.
"There are about two hundred of them," said Lars. "They swim in a long line, like that, every day. They go over to one beach to eat fish and come back every night."
"Just see them roll around!" said Mike. "Are they round?"
"No. You'll find a picture of them in your book," said Mr. Alden. "I think that is in Lesson Two."
So it was every minute. The children saw something new and then they always found a picture of it in their books.
"I told you they were wonderful books," said Grandfather. "There is a lesson about the radio room. You will like that. Bill in the radio room will show you the radar tomorrow."
The next day the children saw every part of the ship. They knew every sailor on the Sea Star. They had school every day.
One morning the family could not see land any more. The bell rang for Ship's School and soon the five children were studying.
Excerpted from "Blue Bay Mystery"
Copyright © 1989 Albert Whitman & Company.
Excerpted by permission of Albert Whitman & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
2. Getting Ready,
3. Ship's School,
4. The Lifeboat,
8. Cooking and Swimming,
12. Eight in the Family,
13. Sea Star,