The Mystery on Stage: The Boxcar Children Mysteries #43 [NOOK Book]


Someone tries to sabotage the community theater play of "The Wizard of Oz" that the Aldens are in.

The Aldens become involved in a community theater production of "The Wizard of Oz," which is systematically and mysteriously being sabotaged.

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The Mystery on Stage: The Boxcar Children Mysteries #43

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Someone tries to sabotage the community theater play of "The Wizard of Oz" that the Aldens are in.

The Aldens become involved in a community theater production of "The Wizard of Oz," which is systematically and mysteriously being sabotaged.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781453213025
  • Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Series: Boxcar Children Series , #43
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: AWC eISBN 978-0-8075-9648-7
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 400,885
  • Age range: 7 - 12 Years
  • File size: 2 MB

Read an Excerpt

The Mystery on Stage



Copyright © 1994 Albert Whitman & Company
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-1302-5



One fall day, Jessie Alden stood outside a bookstore in Greenfield. In the window was a large poster:


Actors, actresses to perform in
The Wizard of Oz

Auditions held Saturday, November 4th
Greenfield Community Playhouse
Scripts available in bookstore.

The bookstore was closed, but Jessie stood staring at the poster for a time. She did not even notice when another girl also stopped to look in the window.

"Oh, I love The Wizard of Oz," the new girl whispered aloud.

Jessie jumped and whirled around to face the girl. "I didn't think anyone else was here—you scared me," twelve-year-old Jessie said.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to," the girl answered.

Jessie smiled. "I'm Jessie Alden," she said. "Will you be trying out for a part in this play?"

The older girl did not return Jessie's smile. She seemed to look beyond Jessie, far off into space. "I'm Sarah Bellamy," she finally answered. "And yes, I will be. I want the part of Dorothy." Sarah spoke in a deep, clear voice.

"Oh, I'd like to try for that part, too," Jessie said. "I've never tried out for a big role like that before. Have you?"

"Why are you asking me that?" Sarah asked sharply.

"I'm sorry," Jessie said, looking down at the sidewalk.

Sarah looked a little ashamed of herself. "I didn't mean to snap at you," she said as she pulled her purple coat more tightly around her shoulders. "I'm just in such a hurry. You must excuse me."

Before Jessie could say another word, Sarah turned and walked quickly away. Jessie stared after her. Sarah's long dark hair blew in the wind. Her hair and her purple coat seemed to float around her body as she moved down the street. "She looks just like a dancer," Jessie said aloud.

Suddenly, a big gust of wind blew a pile of yellow leaves from the trees. Jessie shivered and buttoned her red jacket before she, too, hurried home.

"Violet, you'll never guess what I saw!" Jessie exclaimed to her ten-year-old sister when she burst into her house.

Jessie was so excited, she let the front door bang behind her, which was unusual. Jessie never banged doors.

Violet looked up from the picture she was drawing of Watch, the family dog. "What?" she asked as she stretched her legs.

"Well, the Community Playhouse is putting on The Wizard of Oz." Jessie sank into her grandfather's overstuffed armchair. "I really want to try out for the part of Dorothy."

Watch ran to Jessie wagging his tail. "Oh, Watch," Jessie said, laughing. She patted Watch's soft fur. "I didn't mean to interrupt your portrait."

"He wasn't sitting still anyway." Violet shook her head and pretended to give Watch a cross look.

The front door opened again, and in came the girls' grandfather with their elder brother, Henry. Watch bounded over to Henry.

"Oh, Watch, can't you see my hands are full?" Henry, who was fourteen, laughed and nudged Watch with his foot. Henry and Grandfather were each carrying several logs of wood.

"Oh, good, you're building a fire," Jessie said. "It will be cozy on a night like this."

"It sure will." Benny came into the living room from the kitchen. He held a half-eaten chocolate chip cookie in his hand.

"These cookies just came out of the oven," Benny said proudly. "I helped Mrs. McGregor make them." Mrs. McGregor was the Alden's housekeeper.

"Oh, Benny, don't spoil your appetite before dinner." Jessie tried to sound stern, but she couldn't help smiling at her six-year-old brother. He always seemed to be eating.

"Nothing could spoil Benny's appetite," Henry said. He crouched by the fireplace and lit the logs with a match. Soon a small fire blazed merrily.

The four Alden children looked happily around their big cozy living room, while the firelight flickered on the walls. They hadn't always lived with their Grandfather. In fact, after their parents died, they did not even want to meet him because they'd heard he was a mean man. They laugh about that now because nothing could be further from the truth.

When Grandfather found his grandchildren, they had been living by themselves in an old abandoned boxcar in the woods. It was a happy day for the family when he brought them all to live with him in his big wonderful house in Greenfield. He even moved the boxcar to his backyard, so his grandchildren could play in it whenever they wanted.

"Jessie has some exciting news," Violet announced to her family. "She's trying out for a big part in The Wizard of Oz."

"Oh, Jessie, that's wonderful." Grandfather came over to put his arm around his granddaughter. "I read about the play in the paper."

"I have some exciting news, too," Benny said. He wiped cookie crumbs onto his blue pants. "Soo Lee is coming to dinner with Joe and Alice."

Jessie beamed. "Oh, good! We haven't seen them in a long time."

Benny nodded. "I wonder if Soo Lee knows the story of The Wizard of Oz?"

"If she doesn't, I'm sure she'd like to hear it, Benny." Grandfather chuckled. He knew Benny had a special fondness for his seven-year-old cousin.

"Alice told me Soo Lee is reading everything she can in English, and she's asking lots of questions," Jessie said.

Benny grinned. He remembered how shy Soo Lee had been when he first met her at the airport not too long ago. The children's cousins, Joe and Alice, had adopted Soo Lee from Korea.

When the doorbell rang, Benny was the first to answer. Joe swept him up in a big bear hug. Alice kissed each of her cousins in turn. Benny took Soo Lee by the hand and led her into the dining room.

At dinner, the Aldens ate roast chicken, mashed potatoes, peas, and salad. No one could stop talking about the play. "I could help you learn your lines, Jessie," Mrs. McGregor said as she put a bowl of cranberry sauce by Joe's elbow.

Jessie gave Mrs. McGregor a grateful look. "That would be wonderful," she told her. "I'm planning to go pick up the script tomorrow. The auditions will be held in two days."

"The what?" Benny asked.

"That's when you go and try out for the part you want," Henry explained to Benny.

Jessie nodded. "I really need to practice," she said. "I met someone today who wants the same part I do." Jessie told her family about the girl who rushed away as soon as Jessie started asking her about the play. "The strange thing is Sarah did not seem to be in a hurry until I started talking to her." Jessie finished her story and took a drink of water.

"It sounds like she didn't want you to ask her any questions," Henry pointed out.

"But why not?" Jessie asked.

"Jessie, not to change the subject," Grandfather said, "but maybe you should tell Soo Lee a little about Dorothy."

Jessie nodded. "Dorothy," she began, "is a little girl from Kansas who gets swept away to the land of Oz in a tornado."

"Her dog, Toto, goes with her," Benny chimed in.

Soo Lee nodded. "I know that story, Jessie. I saw the movie." Soo Lee looked at Jessie with her big brown eyes. "I think you'll be a very good Dorothy."

Alice laughed. "Soo Lee loved the part where Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion and the Tinman."

"But I didn't like the Wicked Witch of the West at all." Soo Lee shook her head. "I'm glad you don't want that part."

Benny pushed his peas to one side of his plate. He seemed deep in thought. "Jessie," he finally said, "do you think Watch could try out for the part of Toto?"

Everyone laughed. "I don't see why not," Joe finally answered. He stopped laughing and wiped his eyes with his napkin. "Watch is well trained, and he would have no trouble following Jessie around."

"If Watch can get a part, maybe the rest of us should, too," Henry said. "I don't think I want to act, but I could build scenery or help with the lighting."

"And I could make costumes." Violet's eyes glowed. She loved to sew.

"Could I do something?" Soo Lee looked at Jessie. "I'd like to."

"You could help paint the scenery, Soo Lee," Jessie said returning Soo Lee's smile.

Benny swallowed his peas with some effort. "I could train Watch for his part," he volunteered.

"Benny, there's a lot you could do," Henry said. "They probably need several people to help with scenery in a play like that."

"Well, it's all settled then," Violet said. "When you go for your audition, Jessie, we're all coming with you."



The day of the auditions was clear and cold. Jessie woke up feeling so nervous she could barely fasten the buttons on her polka-dot blouse. Violet came to her rescue.

"Jessie, it's not like you to be so jumpy. You're going to be fine," Violet assured her sister.

Jessie sighed. "I hope so. I think I'll feel better once we're there."

Alice dropped Soo Lee off at the Aldens' just as they were finishing their breakfast. "Good luck, Jessie," she called. "I wish I could come to the auditions, too, but I told Joe I'd help him paint the porch steps."

As they were ready to leave, Mrs. McGregor came out of the kitchen to give Jessie a hug. "I'll be rooting for you," she said. Watch barked and thumped his tail on the floor. "And, as you can see, so will Watch."

Jessie managed a smile.

"Break a leg, Jessie," Grandfather called from his armchair as the children headed out the door.

"Grandfather, what do you mean?" Benny gave his grandfather a puzzled look.

"Don't worry, Benny. 'Break a leg' is just another way of saying good luck. Actors often use that expression." Grandfather waved good-bye.

The Community Playhouse theater was a fifteen-minute walk from the house. Soon the children could see the fancy brick building in the distance. A large park encircled the building.

The children crossed the lawn in front of the theater. They passed big flower beds filled with orange and yellow chrysanthemums, now a little faded from the cold. Stone benches were placed underneath tall oak trees.

"It's pretty here," Soo Lee said, looking all around her.

Soo Lee had never seen the community park and theater before. She lived with Joe and Alice in a town not far from Greenfield.

"Well, we're here." Violet gazed up at the large building. Henry opened the heavy oak door, and the children entered a big lobby. People clutching scripts milled around the room.

A woman was seated behind a long table. She had several long sheets of paper on the table in front of her. "Please sign here for the part you're trying out for," she told the children. "The auditions will begin in half an hour in room 222 upstairs."

"Hey, look," Benny nudged Violet. "Why is that man in a costume already?"

Indeed, a man with a tin helmet covering his head headed up the stairs. He wore a metal barrel around his body and silver tights on his legs and arms.

"I don't know," Violet answered. "But that's a wonderful costume for the Tinman. Maybe he feels it will bring him luck."

Jessie passed the sign-up sheets to Henry who wrote his name under scenery and lighting. Violet signed up to help with costumes.

Soo Lee added her name under scenery and passed the sheet to Benny. Benny was so busy looking at the Tinman's costume, he didn't pay any attention to the sign-up sheet—or to where he was going.

"Ouch, that's my foot you just stepped on!" a girl cried out angrily. The girl had wavy auburn hair pulled off her face with a shiny gold barrette. She wore long dangly earrings, a pink silk shirt, and very strong lemon-scented perfume. She looked about Jessie's age. Before Benny could apologize, she hurried away.

"Mother, that little boy just stepped on my foot," the girl spoke loudly to an older woman with short blonde hair. "Thanks to him, one of my new shoes is all dirty." She held out her leg to show a smudged pink suede shoe. Several people turned around to look. Benny felt his face turn bright red.

"Oh, Melody, I can buy you new shoes in the same color," the girl's mother answered. She glared in Benny's direction, then took Melody by the arm and went up the stairs.

"I tried to say I was sorry," Benny whispered to Jessie, "but she walked away too fast."

"Don't worry, Benny." Jessie patted her brother on the arm. "I'm sure you didn't mean to step on her foot."

The Aldens and Soo Lee followed the others up the winding staircase. They walked down the hall to a big room with floor-to-ceiling windows.

A thin man with blond hair sat in the center of a circle. People holding scripts were seated around him reading their lines.

"Look, they've already started," Benny whispered loudly to Jessie.

"No they haven't, they're just practicing," said a tall, brown-haired woman who introduced herself as Nancy Wu, the stage manager. She held all the sign-up sheets in one hand. "Would those trying out for Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion please come around this table," she announced.

"Why are they auditioning so many parts at once?" Violet asked her sister.

Before Jessie could answer, the blond man stood up and introduced himself as James Maynard, the director. Violet noticed he had big dark circles under his eyes.

"I'm asking all those interested in lead roles to audition together," the director was saying, "because I want to see how well you read with one another. You all know, of course, you may not get the part you try out for. You can't all be Dorothy," he said looking at the ten girls clustered around him. "But if you read well, I may assign you another part."

"I don't think I'll accept any other part but Dorothy," Melody whispered loudly to her mother. She adjusted her gold barrette as she walked with her mother to the director's table.

"You know, Mr. Maynard, my daughter has been receiving private voice lessons for the past five years," Melody's mother explained. "She's also been taking ballet for her posture."

James Maynard ran his hand through his hair and nodded politely. "Please call me Jim," was all he said.

Jessie seated herself at the long table near Melody. She noticed Sarah coming toward them and waved, but Sarah seemed lost in thought. She didn't even notice Jessie until she sat down.

"Oh, hello! You're the one I met outside the bookstore," Sarah said. She even smiled a little. The man in the tin costume joined them along with several other male and female actors who were all from the town.

"I didn't know there were so many actors in Greenfield," Henry said to Violet as he sat down to watch the auditions. The Aldens and Soo Lee made sure they sat very close to the big table so they could hear everything Jessie said.

"I recognize some of them," Violet answered. "Isn't that woman over there Mrs. Adams, the librarian?" Violet pointed to a tall woman with masses of curly blonde hair who was auditioning for the part of the Good Witch, Glinda.

Henry nodded. "Yes, you're right." He sounded a little surprised.

Since so many girls were trying out for Dorothy, the director decided to audition only the "Dorothys" first. He had the other actors stand by and watch, along with friends and relatives.

"To play the role of Dorothy, you'll have to do some dancing and singing," Jim was saying. "I hope you came prepared with a song to sing for us." The girls all nodded. The director then picked a scene from the play and asked each girl in turn to read that scene with him.

Two girls Jessie didn't know read first and second. Jessie didn't think they did well at all. The director must not have thought so either because he didn't even ask them to sing.

When it was Melody's turn, she stood up. She didn't even use the script. She knew all her lines from memory. She moved her arms, her feet, her whole body. She sang with a beautiful, well-trained voice and when she finished, some people clapped — Melody's mother loudest of all. Jim smiled a little absentmindedly and motioned to the next girl to continue the scene.

Jessie took a deep breath when the director pointed to her. She read the part where Dorothy first meets the Scarecrow on the Yellow Brick Road. She pretended she was in the strange world of Oz holding her dog, Toto, in her arms.

James Maynard sat in front of Jessie, reading the Scarecrow's lines. When he moved his hands to brush the hair from his face, Jessie imagined him adjusting his ragged, pointy black hat, just like in the movie.

When she finished, her family applauded and cheered. Some others joined in. Jim chuckled. "Thank you, Jessie, that was well done." Jessie smiled and leaned back in her chair to listen to the others.

When Sarah began to read, the room became very still. After a few lines, Jessie sat spellbound. Sarah made Jessie see Dorothy as she really was — a little girl stranded in a strange land with only her dog for company.

For the first time that morning, no one could be heard whispering or rustling scripts. When Sarah sang her song, Jessie noticed Melody pouting. But Jim Maynard's eyes shone, and for once he sat perfectly still.

For a few seconds after Sarah stopped, there was silence. Then everyone began to applaud. Some even stood up and cheered. Sarah looked very pleased until she glanced at her watch. "Oh, no, I didn't realize how late it was getting," she muttered softly.

"Oh, do you have to go?" Melody asked, looking pleased.

Sarah turned a little pale. "No, not right away," she answered.

"Good," Jim said. He looked at Sarah closely. "I'd like you to stay to read with the other actors. I also want you to do some simple dance steps on stage this afternoon."

Sarah nodded.

Melody turned her back on Sarah and began whispering to the girl in a white frilly shirt sitting next to her.

"All right, let's continue," Jim said briskly.


Excerpted from The Mystery on Stage by GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Charles Tang. Copyright © 1994 Albert Whitman & Company. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


1 Stagestruck,
2 Auditions,
3 A Cast of Characters,
4 Behind the Scenes,
5 A Role for Watch,
6 A Familiar Face?,
7 Problems on the Set,
8 Dress Rehearsal,
9 The Show Must Go On,
10 Curtain Call,
About the Author,

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2014

    I want this book

    This sonds like a good book.

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