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Reason for Reading: This is part of my Random Bookshelf Reading project. I'm also working on re-reading this series and collecting the first 19.

This book takes a small turn from the formula of the first three. First the boxcar is not mentioned at all, not even in reminiscences of the past, and the children do not this time go off on their own and make do in the wilderness. First we see cousin Joe and Alice sent off to Europe for summer vacation on the first page. This allows the introduction of yet another new relative to the picture, this time it is Grandfather's sister, the children's "Aunt" Jane. First the girls go to visit this crotchety old lady and win over her heart and then the boys follow suit. Once again the mystery starts off with a mystery person, a stranger in town. Could he possibly be up to no good? Then three men try to buy off Aunt Jane's farm by telling her lies that the farm is worthless. Who are these suspicious men? The children set out to answer this mystery and end up finding another exciting mystery as well. Another fun, entertaining entry in the series.

This one does show its age a little though with the discovery of Uranium on the farm. I know little of this mineral and after briefly reading about it find the story is quite naive in its treatment of the mining of such and that the ranch being on a Uranium deposit could possibly have been a health concern as would having a fireplace made out of Uranium. But I imagine in the 50's, Uranium was the "thing" what with it being the begining of the nuclear age and all. This is all irrelevant to the enjoyment of the story for children, though.
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on September 28, 2002
Why isn't this book as good as the rest? I hated it when i was little, much as I loved the rest of the original series. Years have passed since then and I read it again and it's not so bad. But the other reviewers are correct in the fact that this is no mystery, really.
As for the purpose of this book in the scheme of the entire series, it's actually very important. This book is the important link between books 3 and the rest of the series. This book introduces Aunt Jane, a very important role in the future of the children, and it sets the groundwork for book 5, "Mike's Mystery", which takes place on the same ranch some time later. And book 5 is the springboard for Mike to be more important in later adventures. So there is a purpose to this book.
I can't really recommend it though. But any child who wants to read the whole series should not skip this book - it's still part of the experience, no matter how dull it may seem, and it's really not THAT bad.
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on August 11, 1999
"The Mystery Ranch" is part of the Boxcar Children series. In my opinion,it is not as well thought out as the first book,though my 5you loved the whole thing. The children are still very independent,doing things unsupervised that I would never allow my children to do(travelling alone,cooking,shopping.) Of course,that's part of the fun of the Boxcar series. My daughter so identifies with the girls,she wants to BE like them. So,on a too-hot-to-breathe day I might suggest this book,if your kids have nothing better to do. It's not a waste of time,just not the author's best effort
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on April 26, 2002
This is the most boring book I have ever read! I loved the boxcar children books, and all of them I would rate better the 3 stars, but this one was so borring. MYSTERY ranch? What MYSTERY? The was no mystery in this book at all. The whole thing was just so borring. It's the worst boxcar book I have ever read, and I have read about 42 of their so far 87 books! It's just so borring.
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on August 20, 2001
This was the book where the Boxcar Children ate peas for dinner and went to bed at 8:00. They took an entire chapter to plan what they were going to do that day, instead of just doing it. I think this is the right book, but I don't remember because they were all so boring I forgot them. If you are looking for a series for your children to read, I would advise you to keep this out of children's reach. They may need psychiatric treatment after reading this bore of a lifetime. Nothing worth your time is in this book, except that going to bed at 8:00 was a good laugh. --Andy, 12 years old
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