Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Charles in Charge

Hey, remember this blog? I do, apparently. Anyway, I actually kept this one. Everyone takes some worthless stuff from work. With most people it's paper clips or whatever. With me it's novelizations of the pilot episodes of crummy old sitcoms that I found on the back of a shelf, all dusty because WHAT THE HELL KID IS GOING TO READ THIS!? Me, that's who.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

No Flying in the House

Look, editors or whoever lays out these covers, sometimes the title will give you a clue which illustration to put on it. For example, a book called "No Flying in the House" should have someone flying on the cover. Presumably in the house. And if you could throw a consternated authority figure on there, too, that'd be great. This, however, is more a cover for a book called "Oh Snap, a Tiny Dog on my Chair, How Delightful". Or possibly "There Is a Normal Sized Dog on My Giant Chair and I Am Also a Giant".

When looking up this cover online (I saw it in a classroom, but didn't have my camera on me), I caught a bit of a plot description that mentioned the girl can kiss her elbow. This drove me crazy, because I instantly realized that I have read this book, but that is the only part I can remember. I still don't know what her deal is, or if she flies, or if anyone flies, or what's the deal with the dog. But I remember the scene where everyone thinks it's cool that she can kiss her elbow, so I should know that other stuff and it's driving me bonkers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

47 - The Hot Air Balloon Mystery

Henry and Violet are clearly still shaking off the effects of the Quantum Creamery, since their point/wave is not remotely directed at their more Montgolfierian siblings. Oh, I'm just kidding. Surely they can't see them, so high up in the air. Why, they must be at least three feet off the ground. At least the balloons will hopefully inspire some more interesting shirts from them.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

46 - The Chocolate Sundae Mystery

As the Aldens enjoy a nice snack in an ice parlor that was decorated by the same person who makes their clothes, the first thing I notice is that if they are up against a wall, Henry is sitting at an impossible angle, as his butt is clearly off the seat. If it's not a wall, it's some blank, featureless void. Maybe they're in some manner of quantum creamery. That would explain why Henry's cone is defying gravity, why Violet is eating what appears to be an entire cauliflower, and why Benny is wearing the sandals of an old man to accompany (yet again) his Japanese monster movie pants. Also, remember how I told you Benny's big character trait is that he likes food? I wasn't kidding, look at the size of that thing.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

45 - Mystery of the Stolen Music

The kids' forays into the world of high art and culture continue. Is it just me or does it look like they Stole the Music themselves? Those are some really exaggerated expressions of dismay and shock. Especially on Violet. I bet she's got a copy of "ORIGINAL MOZART" all rolled up in her viola case right now. Sorry, missy, that won't distract me from the purple-polka-dots-emblazoned-with-images-of-some-kind-of-medicinal-candy-corn thing you're wearing. Also: Henry, get a tie, you look like an idiot. Benny, get a belt, you look like a jackass.

Monday, June 4, 2012

44 - The Dinosaur Mystery

"Hey, guys! It sure is a mystery why now, in 1995, this Tyrannosaurus rex is depicted in an upright 'tripod' position, even though scientists have known since the late 1960s that this was physically impossible?"

"You're right, Henry! Even though it took a long time for popular perception to catch up with reality, you'd think the change had caught on when the National Museum of Natural History finally changed the pose of their T. rex skeleton three years ago!"

"Exactly, Violet! And the situation was finally settled in the minds of the public when an accurately postured Tyrannosaur was portrayed in the popular Steven Spielberg film Jurassic Park, released just last year!"

"Do you think it could just be that our cover artist is a lazy idiot?"

"What the heck are you two talking about?"

"Hold on, I'll point at it."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World

I was going to make fun of this kid's ridiculous cowboy hat, or high-waisted pants, or especially his goofy expression, but you know what? Those really do look like some good freaking biscuits. And that gets him a lot of leeway. Well, if it's good enough for Coretta Scott King, it's good enough for me.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Bears Upstairs

So now that we're back, I'm going to be branching out a bit and covering the many insane books I see whilst substituting. Classrooms are a great source for this stuff, because teachers will never get rid of anything. Even this. I think my favorite part is the framing. In order to let us see everyone's face, the girl had to be looking back at them, so it makes me imagine what came before. I think they just walked past her and she didn't notice they were bears right away. "Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Bear. ... Waaaaaaait a minute..."

Fashion winner on this one is Mr. Bear. That cowboy hat, the Wesley Crusher-esque trench coat, the rope holding his suitcase closed- And yet Mrs. Bear has it so together. My brother insists we owned this book as children, but he's completely lying. I was curious, though, so I went a bit out of this blog's charter and actually looked for a plot description online. Here's a review by a 12 year old.

Interesting older title about a young girl who befriends two bears that move into her apartment building. The bears are waiting on "the others" to take them away where they can be free from the men hunting them who want to put them in a zoo.
That sounds terrifying. Other reviews make it clear that no one else notices they're bears. Which, come on.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

43 - The Backstage Mystery

Well, I think we know why Henry and Violet were off yesterday having the worst adventure ever. They were jealous of Jessie and Benny, who are getting to have a sweet adventure in the world of legitimate theater. As no stranger to the stage myself, I can verify that this cover is completely accurate, for the following reasons:

1 - Costumes are always hung up on a coat rack backstage, and always in one fully assembled piece so anyone who wanders by can tell what show they're doing.

2 - Jessie is wearing her actor's overalls, whilst the younger Benny only gets the somersaulting penguin sweater of the novice stagehand.

3 - The Wizard of Oz is not overdone at all, you guys.

4 - Flashlights always project bold and clear shadows moving toward the source of light.

I was just kidding on that last one, of course. The flashlight is basically unnecessary. But it was either that or more pointing, I guess.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

42 - The Mystery of the Missing Cat


"Hey, Henry, I found this cat."

"Oh, here's a sign for a missing cat. The large color photo makes it clear it's the same one. It's even doing the same pose."

"What sign?"

"Hold on, I'll point to it."


"Here's your cat."

"Thanks, here's the reward."

"No need, we're filthy rich. We just like solving mysteries."

"I'm not sure 'missing cat' counts as a mystery."

"It does on the book cover."


Monday, May 28, 2012

41 - Mystery of the Hidden Beach

"See, Benny? That's where Jesus was carrying you."

Look, how is it possible to hide a beach? Just keep walking in a given direction and you'll hit one. Need to find a particular beach? Find a nearby one and follow THE FREAKING OCEAN. Trust me, Picnic Pants, you'll find it eventually. Whoever's footprints you're pointing at clearly had the same idea.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

40 - The Canoe Trip Mystery

I can't rag on them for how they look here. Nautical excursions are designed to make people look stupid. Everyone wears their lousy clothes and shoes anyway, because they're going to get ruined, and as the cover demonstrates, the life jackets never match. You just have to hope you end up with one of the cool vest ones like Violet has, and not one of those strangling foam monstrosities Benny has. Henry, having not worn one, has drowned already.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Saturday, March 3, 2012

39 - The Ghost Ship Mystery

Ah, dammit. I was going to make a joke about how I don't see anything interesting on the cover, and it's just the kids standing around, and the punchline was going to be that nobody was pointing; then I looked at Henry's hand up behind Benny's head, and wouldn't you know it. Then I looked even closer at Henry's arm, and realized that it's clearly crazy deformed, and only about a foot long, so maybe I should just go easy on the kid. If I had an arm like that I'd want it to be useful, too, even if I was just pointing at something someone else was already looking at and holding in their damn perfect hands. Or maybe Benny's just so dumb he hasn't noticed it yet.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

38 - Mystery of the Purple Pool

I should really go back to taking my own photos at the store. You're missing out on a lot at this resolution. To wit:

1 - The box Jessie is looking at is labeled "PURPLE DYE". I assume her puzzlement will be replaced with realization when she turns it over.

2 - Benny is not, as you might assume, pointing. He is holding up some of the water to show Jessie. You can see it splattered on the ground. I swear, I don't know how this kid manages to dress himself. Wait, that actually explains a lot.

3 - For a reason on which I extremely do not want to speculate, the artist has drawn Jessie with incredibly veiny legs. I mean, like 90-year-old lady veiny. You can see it a little on her calves there. Why would someone do that?!

4 - Do they ever stay at a hotel that someone's not trying to destroy by doing stupid things to the pool?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

37 - The Mystery of the Lost Village

Oh, man, it's the Mountaintop all over again. I mean, I understand that the need to excavate an ancient civilization to discover the secret origins of the pattern on Jessie's shirt, but dress appropriately! Henry's got it, but the rest of you need to shape up. There's no shortage of hideous lime green boots and pith helmets you could be wearing. Okay, there's not a lot of those, but if anyone could find them, it's you guys.

36 - The Castle Mystery

Oh come on, Henry, you have to turn back. Even your shirt agrees with me. Actually, everyone's clothing choice seems to be indicating a desire to go back today. Though in the girls' case, it's more a matter of wanting to go back in time. And Benny? Well, he's just begging to be pushed down the stairs.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

35 - Mystery at the Dog Show

What we see here is Henry barely restraining some kind of Great Danematian who is set to devour Benny because the sight of his pants has driven it into an unquenchable rage. Benny almost approaches my personal level of style with his Chucks, but ruins it with the bunchy black socks, which admittedly are also at my level of style. Meanwhile...

Sorry, can I help you?

Um... Okay. Meanwhile, the dachshund is...

Okay, guys, I can't finish today because VIOLET'S DOG IS STARING AT MY SOUL.


Monday, January 30, 2012

34 - The Mystery Horse

Oh my. This is it. This is the perfect storm. The clothing is more insane than it's been in weeks, Benny's pointing at the only thing anyone could be looking at, someone's inexplicably not looking at it anyway, Violet's squatting, the cover makes it appear that the titular mystery is solved ("Oh, there it is!")... In the future, the sages will ask of me: "Brian, what Boxcar cover is above all others?" and I will say: "The Mystery Horse." And they shall reply: "What was the mystery?" And I shall say: "I don't know, maybe the horse was missing? I don't read these." And lo, they shall say: "Just curious. Wanna play frisbees?" And I shall say: "Cool beans."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

33 - The Pizza Mystery

Holy cow, I actually remember this one. I definitely own this. It's probably in my attic somewhere. It's another one of those A-team ones. They go to visit Grandpa's friends who own a pizza place near a car factory, but someone's trying to run them out of business. And the Aldens help them by, for example, putting the sauces out in the snow after the refrigerator is sabotaged before a health inspection. And it turns out the car factory owner is trying to run them out of business so that his workers will eat at the cafeteria instead, but he eats a pizza and IT'S SO GOOD IT MAKES HIM STOP BEING EVIL, so he puts in a skyway instead.

Wait, none of that makes sense. Am I remembering that right?

By the way, I occasionally make jokes about how these characters have no personalities, but this cover does highlight one consistent trait that I remember. Benny likes eating. All the time. He practically makes big Dagwood/Shaggy type sandwiches everywhere they go. Just wanted to mention, since their clothes are within acceptable limits this time. Except for the paper hats, but that's hardly their fault.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

32 - Mystery in the Snow

Oh, man, it's bad enough computer issues take me away from here for so long, when I get back all they give me is this. It's like someone took The Snowbound Mystery and replaced the suspense with whimsy. And despite what children's winter fashions from 1993 usually look like, these aren't even worth mocking. So instead, I'd like to discuss the song "Winter Wonderland". When you were a kid, and you built a snowman, was is just for the art? Or did you pretend it was a real person, like the freaks in that song? I think it's so strange that they pretended their icy, mute creation was a real person. Especially a clergyman who asks intrusive and personal questions, or a frozen and unmoving circus clown. Geez, that sounds terrifying.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

In honor of MLK, I have decided to showcase ethnic diversity in the Boxcar covers. Let me see... Just checking the... Hm. No... Bear with me folks...


Okay, see you tomorrow!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

No book today.

Just got a new computer and all my thingies are saved on there. I'll be formatting and setting up automatic updates this weekend, though, so that shan't be a problem. If you need some new entertainment, why not click on these three words and visit my new project, wherein I watch all the Disney movies in order, one a week, for a year?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

31 - The Mystery of the Singing Ghost

While I'm sure there's some in-story reason for them to be sitting there, I like to imagine they were just hanging out on the steps of an abandoned house (abandoned, presumably, because some genius architect decided to have the front steps lead up to a window instead of the door,) when a Ghost walked up and started Singing. And then they all got their surprised faces out. Actually, Violet's looks particularly artificial. Bet she set the whole thing up with a friend. It's probably just Nancy. As for the clothing, there's something really familiar about it, but I can't put my finger - Wait...


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

30 - The Disappearing Friend Mystery

No, it's the Hospital Fund-Raiser Vandalism mystery. Stop lying to me, cover. I'm still getting over Nancy and her T-shirt. Speaking of which, it looks like the vandals assaulted Jessie's shirt, too. I can't get into this one. Just paint new signs, guys. You obviously didn't take long the first time. And then go look for your Disappearing Friend. Hey, maybe it's Nancy. Or "Mike".

Monday, January 9, 2012

29 - The Mystery Cruise

I'm not certain this even is a The Mystery Cruise. I think it's a normal cruise, and they're pretending it's mysterious for... I don't know, tax purposes. Look at how they're smiling. Haven't seen that since book 24. They needed this. Even Jessie's pointing is all relaxed. In other news, HENRY'S SOCKS HENRY'S SOCKS HENRY'S SOCKS.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

28 - The Mystery Girl

I try to avoid actually knowing anything about these, but as I was checking Wikipedia early in my writings, the plot synopsis for this one caught my eye. "The Aldens see Nancy steal a T-shirt." Seriously. That's it. A cover promising clues in old photos, a mysterious closet, and a fireplace dashed on the rocks in favor of some shopliftery at the Gap. She's not even a Mystery Girl! She's Nancy! Maybe the Wiki editors make plot summaries like the people who work at Netflix. As far as I can tell, they just take some random unimportant thing from the first five minutes of a TV episode and make that their synopsis. Either that or they talk about it in terms to vague to mean anything. Well, I'm going to watch How I Met Your Mother. In this one, "The gang orders food at the bar, and Barney deceives a woman for sex." Events are sure to transpire!

EDIT: It occurs to me now that she could have stolen the T-shirt from the closet. Which would explain the one empty hanger. Maybe she was just trying to save it from being worn by an Alden.

PS: If anyone was wondering if I ever use this blog to hit on women, the answer is yes: Hello, lady with the cool boots and big eyes that I was helping to find books yesterday. Thanks for visiting my blog. You're super pretty. Here's that book I was telling you about. The story in question is "Utensile Strength", and it's set after Talking to Dragons.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

27 - The Camp-Out Mystery.

Girls! Did you learn nothing from the Bobbsey Twins?! I asked for rampaging insanity, not a tight close-up of two scared people in a tent! Well, if there's one thing I love, it's imagining the Boxcar Children overreacting to mundane stimuli, so let's see...


10 - Owl Hooting
9 - Branch rustling
8 - Henry peeing on a tree
7 - Blair witch
6 - Benny peeing in his sleeping bag
5 - The escaped monkey from the last book
4 - The clown from Candy Castle... no wait, they should be scared of that.
3 - Diamond Smugglers
2 - Benny getting his hand stuck in a Hunny Tree
1 - The loud clashing of their entire wardrobe

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Now this is more like it.

Man, sometimes I get a little down on the Boxcars. For despite all their pointing and squatting and horrible shoes, I feel like sometimes they just aren't trying that hard. So here's a lesson, kids, from the child sleuths who came before you. Or technically during, as this one was from 1968. Anyway, I can hardly think of a thing to add to this cover. A phallic barber pole spaceship in the middle of some kind of druidic sacrifice circle is releasing a clown from a slide that appears to be the only method of entry, apart from a row of windows too close to cover separate floors. And TWO sets of twins look on! I don't even know which ones are the Bobbsey twins, or if there's more than one set, or what! This is the new gold standard, people.