As our guest author series continues, we’re delighted to have author Obert Skye join us in our discussion of The Boxcar Children. The featured animated film, which is now on Netflix, is also available at your local retailer.
I admit it, I love the Boxcar children—not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact in looking back, I can see so many ways in which they influenced my own writing.
I remember when I read the first volume. It had been loaned to me by a kid named Tony who lived down the street. He always wore T-shirts with movie decals on them, and he read a lot of books. He would study books at recess while the rest of us tried to look like we knew what we were doing by kicking kick balls and chasing girls that were clearly faster than us.
I was at Tony’s house one afternoon and saw a huge pile of books by his Star Wars lamp. I had never seen that many books outside of a library. Tony was super proud of them, and when I asked him which book was his favorite, he carefully pulled out a book from beneath his bed and handed it to me. It was The Boxcar Children. I didn’t know much about the book at the time, but I did like trains and well, boxcars are a part of the train family. I asked Tony about it and he said,
“It’s about four kids, Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny.”
I thought it was weird that he knew the character names and that he could list them off as if they were members of his family. I also thought it was weird that he volunteered to let me borrow it, after I had broken one of his Adventure People action figures the week before.
I read it in one weekend and loved every word. I could see why Tony had listed the characters like family. They felt real, and I felt compelled to root for them and worry for them. I loved when the grandfather turned out to be kind. And when the boxcar was moved into the backyard I openly cheered. All was right with the world the day I finished that book.
I suppose that’s what a good book does. It takes you away and then leaves you in a spot you’re now happy to occupy. The Boxcar Children was a good book.
I remember a few years back having a discussion with another author about the Boxcar books. I was surprised by how many influences those stories had on my life and writing. There are almost too many to point out. I will mention one. I don’t know if it was my subconscious or just the way things played out, but I find it interesting that I now have two sons of my own, and one’s named Henry and the other one we call Benny. It’s like the characters literally became family.
Long live the Boxcar Children.
Obert Skye is the author of the Leven Thumps series and The Creature From My Closet series.