If you read about my recent trip, you’ll remember it included all kinds of author encounters, both real and imaginary. Not only did I meet living writers (which of course is part of my job), but I also got to talk with a couple of impersonators of classic children’s book authors (namely, Laura and Maud). But what about Gertrude? Who stands in for the late author of the Boxcar Children books when readers want to find out more about her?
Well, I do. No, I don’t dress up as Gertrude Chandler Warner (though I would love an excuse to get some glasses like hers.) But in my years as an editor on the Boxcar Children Mysteries, I’ve answered fan letters written to Ms. Warner, ghostwritten stories under her “created by” byline, and even visited a third grade class via Skype to talk about the Boxcar books.
One of my favorite “playing Gertrude” moments happened recently for TeachingBooks.net, a multimedia company that offers audio excerpts of children’s and YA books for use in the classroom. While the audio clips are often recorded by the books’ authors themselves, this wasn’t possible in Ms. Warner’s case, so the job of reading aloud a few pages from The Boxcar Children fell to me.
Luckily I love doing this sort of thing (weird fact: I am the voice of Albert Whitman & Company’s automated phone system!), and thus spent an afternoon in June on the phone with the TeachingBooks studio technicans to make the recording. I tripped up a few times (“Henry—I mean, Benny!”), but the audio techs managed to edit out my flubs. Finally, a few weeks ago, Danika from TB emailed me the links to the audio files and invited me to share them as a free sample of TeachingBooks.net’s services:
- Click here to listen to a three-minute introduction to The Boxcar Children and a few paragraphs from the first chapter.
- Here you can listen to a thirty-second clip in which I explain Gertrude Chandler Warner’s name (yes, the meaning of “Chandler” REVEALED).
- And here is another short clip in which I explain my own name. (The name intros are a nice service for those times when you forget how Jon Scieszka’s name is pronounced.)