I agree with the Fitzgerald-Trouts. Adults are the worst. Especially the ones the five children are related to.
Esta Spalding’s Boxcar Children reminiscent tale (I’m making assumptions based on hazy memories of the Boxcar books) follows the adventures and mishaps of five children who are all related to each other by one parent or another and have decided to live together without their terrible parents. Their parents are atrocious. These kids should have way more abandonment issues than they do.
Kimo, who is the second oldest of the children, has the worst father imaginable. His father, Johnny Trout, steals a boat Kimo wins in a contest that the children planned to live on. Another set of parents have abandoned baby Penny to the care of the older children. Kim, the oldest, is only 11. She drives them all around in a beater car and makes sure they go to school and get groceries.
Do kids like to read these horrible stories about terrible parents and needing to take care of their siblings with limited resources? Stories about being in constant danger and being hungry? The kids still go to school, so it’s not like there are major benefits to not having parents. These kids are really disdainful of even the smallest snippets of adult advice or help.
In Knock About with the Fitzgerald-Trouts, the island the children live on is acting weirdly: major rain storms, an exploding volcano, floods, loads of bugs—all bad news. They’re still managing to make a go of things by harvesting fresh fruits and fishing, as well sleeping in the occasional abandoned house. After a mysterious warning from a stranger and some detective work, the children realize someone is hurting the island. Only they can save it. And get their boat back.