Going Back to the Boxcar

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Have you ever gone back to a book series you read as a child and revisited the stories? A little over a week ago, I began a beloved series over again. I just got a library card for the public library near my college. Upon receiving the card, I headed for the Spanish section. Not seeing anything that caught my interest (this time), I wandered over to the children’s books.

I felt a bit sheepish, to be honest. After all, I’m in college, and there I was, sneaking through the children’s section on tiptoe, trying not to disrupt the story hour just on the other side of the shelves. Old books popped out at me. Good memories of curling up and delighting in stories from another world. Other books that I had never read tempted me to take them off the shelf, throw aside my homework, and never leave the library again. Or at least until I had exhausted the system.

Instead, I meandered up and down the aisles a bit longer. Surely it was here somewhere. You couldn’t have a proper library without them! Sure enough, just when I had given up hope of ever finding them, I stumbled across the long-forgotten stories: The Boxcar Children.

I picked up the first book, remembering checking the mysteries out of my elementary school library, borrowing books from friends, receiving them as birthday presents, lending them out to other friends. I held in my hands a piece of children’s history. Who knew how many little hands had picked this very book up and been whirled into the lives of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny? Who knew how many older siblings had passed those books onto their younger brothers and sisters?

These books belong to a long series. A series so long in fact that it has far outlived the author. After 19 books, Gertrude Chandler Warner passed away, but some 25 years later, someone started writing about those 4 children and their adventures. Since then, over 100 books have been published, ghost written under Warner’s name. Perhaps these Boxcar authors were once like me, a young child reading some of her first chapter books. A little girl wishing she could be Jessie or Violet. A kid who loved the books so much that she started writing her own. Maybe someday I’ll try my own hand at such stories. Or maybe I’ll just stick to reading about my 4 friends who are far older than I yet still touch my life and remind me of wonder.

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