Faith in the News

The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island – Movie Review

In theaters on Tuesday, May 8th only

a one-night event only

Learn more & find a theater

Do you remember your favorite place as a child? The look, the feel, even the smell? Maybe it was a yearly family vacation destination, or a spot under a tree in your local park, the bank of a river or creek. Whatever that spot was, my guess is you had one, and that you remember it vividly. I know I do. And The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island took me right back. As I watched the kids from one of my favorite book series as a child explore Alden Island (which they later nicknamed Surprise Island) for a summer, I was taken right back to memories of my summers as a child, and my favorite spot. For me it was a simple bush, that was somehow hollowed out inside it seemed, to create the perfect little hiding spot inside the gigantic bush where my cousin and I would sit and play as kids. Everything about that space is ingrained in my memory. The smell of the nearby horses, the breeze coming through the leaves of the bush, the sound of my cousins voice. The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island took me back there, as I recalled the carefree summers of childhood, but it also shared important lessons of honesty and reconciliation, and of the importance of family.

A Summer to Remember

In The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island, we are taken on a journey with Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny from the beloved children’s series The Boxcar Children. Based on the second book in the series, the movie shows the kids first experience with Alden Island, a small family owned island where their grandfather takes them to live for the summer. They have an old barn that they convert to a home, and they manage to find their fill to eat from the garden, and from clams and fish they catch. They spend their days exploring and working on a project that has them collecting all sorts of island items. They meet a young man named Joe during their time on the island, and quickly become friends. We see the older siblings caring for the younger siblings in often ordinary, but occasionally extraordinary ways. The family sticks together and helps each other out. We are whisked along on all their adventures, and are able to enjoy a fun summer on Alden Island.

Honesty and Reconciliation

Early on in the movie, we become aware that there is a secret on this island. We don’t know what is going on, but we know that the caretaker of the island is hiding something from Grandpa Alden. A statement is made early on by one of the characters that “A secret is always a burden.” This proves to be true throughout the movie, and serves as an important reminder that honesty truly is the best policy. Carrying the burden of a secret, a lie, is difficult. It stays with you and causes you to hurt people you love. This happened to the Alden family, but reconciliation was not far off. Towards the end of the movie, we become aware of the secret, and see a beautiful reunion. Despite hurt feelings from dishonesty, the Alden family is able to find peace and love. “We worked things out, because that’s what families do.” Grandpa Alden’s statement at the end of the movie is a great reminder of what it means to be a family. Forgiveness and reconciliation are possible when love binds you together. The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island is a fun family movie, even if you haven’t a single book in the series. The adventures that the Alden children see throughout their summer on the island are what summers should be made of for children – outdoor play, exploration, creativity, and learning things school cannot teach. For us adults, I can almost guarantee you’ll wind up thinking about the summers of YOUR childhood, and about your favorite spot. Children will likely come up with ideas for their summer breaks, and quite possibly be interested in adding some books from the Boxcar Children series to their home libraries so they can continue to follow the Alden family. Most importantly, all who watch this film will leave having been reminded of the value and importance of honesty, family, forgiveness and reconciliation.


Remember, it’s just a one-night event

Learn more & find a theater


Julie McConnell

Julie is a life-long Hoosier, wife, and mother of two. When she is not working in her pharmacy, she spends her time with her husband and daughters in Indianapolis. She is a member of Geist Christian Church and enjoys playing outside with her girls, finding fun things to do in Indy, watching football, and reading bedtime stories.