Colleen Gleason remembers distinct, family-oriented images from The Boxcar Children

In light of the new animated film, “The Boxcar Children,” our author series continues with author Colleen Gleason, who read The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner, as a child. The film features voice actors Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Zachary Gordon, and Jaden Sand; directors include Daniel Chuba and Mark A. Z. Dippé. It’s now available at local retailers!

Boxcar DVD cover

Gleason remembers the first time her librarian handed her a Boxcar Children book:

It was the first in the series, and I dove right in, completely enchanted with—and worried for—the four homeless children. I loved their sense of family, these four parentless children, and found the creativity and ingenuity of the Alden siblings compelling.

BC cover 51DMhV03xGL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

These reactions continued as I read the whole series—many of the books multiple times. My very favorite was Blue Bay Mystery. There was something so fun about the four of them going to a South Seas island with their grandfather and Lars, the kindly shipwrecked sailor. I loved the environment of the island—and what we learned about everything from plankton to some basic survival skills to the statues of Easter Island.

To this day, whenever I think of The Boxcar Children, the first image that comes to mind is the pink cup in their comfy little boxcar, followed closely by the sunny, warm tropics of Blue Bay and the mysterious stranger on their little island. Sleeping in huts, picking bananas, swimming in Green Bay, and, of course, soup in the turtle shell.

The Boxcar Children were a part of my young reading life, and not only were the books filled with interesting mysteries, but I also felt as if the family of four really existed, really cared about each other, and would always be together.


Colleen Gleason’s The Spiritglass Charade: A Stoker & Holmes Book is out now!  Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or through her website.

Colleen Gleason remembers distinct, family-oriented images from The Boxcar Children

Search for Boxcars

I loved reading The Boxcar Children so much that I once created a shoebox diorama version of my own boxcar, chock full of pine-needle beds and a swimming hole outside the car.  Unfortunately the diorama did not withstand the test of time.

Fortunately, however, this little gem has. Last fall we came across this photo of a Bloomington, Indiana classroom’s real-life interpretation of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny’s boxcar home.

So we are wondering, do you have any boxcar photos??  We would love to see all the dioramas, life-size boxcars, every and any interpretation, large or small.  Send them to us at or link them to our Boxcar Children Facebook page.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Search for Boxcars (Or, My Life as Gertrude)

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. Continue reading “ (Or, My Life as Gertrude)” (Or, My Life as Gertrude)