After 28 Magic Treehouse books and a few miscellaneous detours (including, of course, a wonderful revisiting of Fantastic Mr. Fox), we've been trying to find more books to read with Harper.
Not that the Magic Treehouse isn't interesting (and, honestly, Harper loves them), but, after 28 of the suckers, I'm reading for a book or two that doesn't involve time travel or magic.
So, we tried the Boxcar Children, which I remember liking as a kid.
As an adult, the writing is unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable.
I can accept (and even understand the motivation behind) the stock characters (look, Benny is obsessed with food! And, look, every time food gets mentioned in the book, Benny will say something (or, more accurately, "cry" something) about how hungry he is), and I can accept the stock gender roles (the girls cook and clean, the boys explore and build shit), but I can't accept the page-by-page awful writing. Every dialogue tag is "he cried" and almost every line of dialogue merely reiterates what has been narrated in an earlier sentence and every dialogue tag is followed by a dependent clause that explains exactly what the speaker did while delivering his line.
But, then, we read two of them to Harper.
And we may read more in the future.
And I understand why it's that way.
And I understand why it's ridiculous to criticize a book meant for a younger audience through nothing but an adult lens.
I mean, c'mon.
That said: for now, we're in the middle of Pirate Island Adventure, by Peggy Parish, another that I remember from my childhood. PIA is, technically, a sequel to a book called -- I think -- Key to the Treasure, but I couldn't find that one in my parents' basement before we left Michigan. And, if nothing else, the writing is an improvement over the Boxcar kids.