Author Gary Urey, a graduate of the America Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, discusses his childhood love for The Boxcar Children. The animated film of “The Boxcar Children,” based on the first book in the series, is now available at local retailers. Urey says The Boxcar Children series captured his imagination as a kid.
My Boxcar Children journey began with a summer visit to the Mercer Area Library in Mercer, Pennsylvania. The year was 1976. Our country was two hundred years old; I was nine, and one day, I checked out the book, Bicycle Mystery.
Life hasn’t been the same since.
Unlike the Alden kids’ Bicycle Mystery, my mother never would have allowed me to take a week-long bicycle trip into the countryside all alone. However, living vicariously through the pages of their story was not enough. I needed to LIVE what the Alden kids had experienced in their adventure. I remember cruising the streets of my little town on a brand new Huffy bicycle, fantasizing about being an Alden, and searching for an abandoned house to escape the rain. I packed slices of white bread, hoping to lure a stray dog in need of rescue. Every adult walking down the street was a potential dog-napper.
Next came the Mystery Behind the Wall. The book convinced me that fabulous treasures were hidden somewhere in the walls of my bedroom. Then there was the Tree House Mystery: A Graphic Novel, my all-time favorite Boxcar Children tale. The story seemed to parallel my own life at the time—my friends and I were trying to build a treehouse (unsuccessfully), and a new family with a kid my age had just moved in a few houses from my own. Unfortunately, we never found a missing spyglass or a mysterious hidden room.
Stories of the Alden siblings kicked the door open for my love of reading, and that same legacy has now passed to my daughter, Sophie. She is the proud owner of a dozen Boxcar Children books and loves them all. In fact, she begged my wife (a children’s theatre director) to write a stage adaptation of the Boxcar Children and cast her as Violet. When Albert Whitman announced their nation-wide contest to pick a child to voice a part in the movie, she eagerly signed up and was disappointed when she didn’t win. Generation after generation, the Boxcar Children books still have the power to capture a kid’s imagination!
Gary Urey is the author of Super Schnoz and the Gates of Smell, which Kirkus called in its starred review “…a winner, especially for reluctant readers.” Urey’s latest book in the Super Schnoz saga, Super Schnoz and the Invasion of the Snore Snatchers, is available now.
Urey puts his professional theatre training to good use every time he sits down to write funny stories for kids. Besides being an actor, Gary spent several years in New York City as a theatre reviewer and script reader. He now lives and writes in Portland, Maine with his wife and two daughters.