# 99 on School Library Journal's List of Top 100 Children's Novels
Genre: Children's Fiction (Ages 7 and Up)
The Recipe: Four orphaned children are determined to survive on their own by living in an abandoned boxcar, finding treasures in trash, and working to earn money to support each other.
The Frosting and Sprinkles: Children seem to love this book. I remember liking it as a child. I think it is because it appeals to the child fantasy of finding adventure in surviving on one's own.
The children have a sweet relationship, but kind of nauseatingly sweet (see "Hair.."). The story contains positive themes of family love, not judging people, kindness toward others, and the value of hard work.
The Hair That Fell Into the Batter: The characters are nauseatingly saccharine sweet and unrealistic. The children never complain, never fight, never get sad over missing their parents. The ending is too easy and also filled with saccharine. I like saccharine in my diet coke, but not in the novels I'm reading (nor in cupcakes).
I could not find the characters believable because...well...perfectly sweet and well-behaved children existed never. Also the world is hard and broken, especially when your parents die. These children somehow missed that memo.
There is not much plot development, but much time spent digging through trash and finding cool objects. (Perhaps this book is responsible for the dumpster diving trend!) Also, this book is described as a mystery, but where's the mystery? I must've missed while trying to sieve out the saccharine.
2 Out of 5 Cupcakes
(It was OK)