The Return of the Graveyard Ghost (The Boxcar Children Series #133)

The Return of the Graveyard Ghost (The Boxcar Children Series #133)

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by Gertrude Chandler Warner

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One stormy afternoon, the Aldens take a shortcut through the Greenfield Cemetery and discover a strange local superstition! According to legend, it’s good luck to leave presents in a certain spot in the cemetery—and bad luck to anyone who doesn’t. But since there’s no such thing as ghosts, there must be a reason for this weird tradition.… See more details below


One stormy afternoon, the Aldens take a shortcut through the Greenfield Cemetery and discover a strange local superstition! According to legend, it’s good luck to leave presents in a certain spot in the cemetery—and bad luck to anyone who doesn’t. But since there’s no such thing as ghosts, there must be a reason for this weird tradition. The Boxcar Children are determined to find out what it is.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
When Jessie, Henry, Violet and Benny Alden get caught too far from home with an impending downpour, they decide to take a shortcut through the Greenfield Cemetery. As the rain begins to pelt down, a flash of lightning illuminates a shadowy figure lurking near the mausoleum housing the LaFonte family graves. The children later learn that there is a town legend that people who do not leave gifts at the gravesite once a year--on the anniversary of the death of Madame Jacqueline LaFonte--often have a year of bad luck to follow. Most people in town have their own stories about someone who did not leave a gift and then had misfortune, including, in one case, disappearing without a trace. The children are determined to find out if the curse is true and if there is really a LaFonte ghost collecting the gifts or just a thief running an elaborate scam. Canine companion Watch gets kidnapped, maybe as a warning that they are getting too close to the perpetrator, but all comes right in the end. Part of a lengthy series created by Warner and now sustained by ghostwriters, these are appropriate for middle level readers and provide engaging story lines. This volume, set around Halloween and dealing with ghosts, curses and graveyards would be a great read for the fall season. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D. AGERANGE: Ages 8 to 12.

Product Details

Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date:
Boxcar Children Series , #133
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Barnes & Noble
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12 MB
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Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Return of the Graveyard Ghost

A Boxcar Children Mystery



Copyright © 2013 Albert Whitman & Company
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-4950-3


In the Cemetery

"I think it's going to rain," twelve-year-old Jessie Alden told her younger brother, Benny. "We need to walk faster if we're going to beat the storm," she said. Jessie gently tugged on Watch's leash. The wire-haired terrier trotted between Benny and Jessie, keeping pace with their quick steps.

"I'm going as fast as I can," Benny replied. "The wind keeps pushing me backward." He looked ahead toward his ten-year-old sister, Violet, and fourteen-year-old brother, Henry. Violet was struggling with the zipper on her jacket and Henry's hat kept flying away in the strong gusts.

"It's too cold," Henry complained as he swooped his hat off the ground for the fifth time and set it firmly over his short brown hair. "Taking Watch for a walk seemed like a good idea an hour ago—"

"It was warmer then," Violet responded with a shiver. Her two high pigtails whipped back in the wind. She gave up on the zipper and wrapped the jacket around her instead. "We should have stayed closer to home." Violet shoved her hands into her pockets.

"Nothing to do about it now," Jessie said as she and Benny caught up with their siblings.

Benny was breathing heavily. "This is crazy strong wind. If you tied a string to me, I'd be a six-year-old kite."

Jessie took Benny's hand in hers and squeezed it tight. "I'll make sure you don't blow away," she said, holding him firmly.

"I have an idea." Henry pointed to the nearby gate of the Greenfield Cemetery. "There's a shortcut this way."

"Shortcut?" Benny stared past the tall, ornate iron gate toward the moss-covered tombstones. "Sounds good to me. Let's go!" He rushed forward.

"Hang on." Jessie put a hand on Benny's shoulder. "Cemeteries are spooky." Jessie was very brave, but she was also cautious. "Are yousure it's okay with you, Benny?"

"I'm not a chicken." Benny put his hands on his hips. "I don't believe in ghosts."

"Once we get to Main Street, we can stop at a shop and call Grandfather for a ride," Henry told them.

"The quicker we get home, the faster we can eat!" At that, Benny's stomach rumbled. "My tummy says it's almost dinner time."

"It's only four o'clock," Henry told Benny after checking his watch.

"Hmmm." Benny pat his belly. "Feels like dinner time. My tummy needs a snack."

"You always need a snack!" Henry laughed.

Jessie looked to Violet. Violet often kept quiet about things. Jessie wanted to make sure Violet got a vote before they decided to go through the graveyard.

"Are you scared, Violet?" Jessie asked.

"A little," Violet admitted. "I don't know if I believe in ghosts or not. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't ..." Violet's voice tapered off. "I suppose if everyone else wants to go that way, it's all right."

"Great!" Benny pushed open the gate. "We all agree. Come on."

Jessie held Watch's leash as they stepped onto the cobblestone path. The sky grew darker with each step they took. Violet moved close to Jessie.

Henry walked ahead with Benny. They were checking out the gravestones, taking turns reading the names and dates out loud.

Greenfield Cemetery was built on a hillside. The wind howled through a thick grove of trees planted in the oldest section. Tombstones in that part dated as far back as the late 1700s.

"There's a lot of history around us," Jessie remarked.

Benny pointed at a tombstone. He sounded out the engraved word. "Soldier."

"The soldier died in 1781. That means he probably fought in the American Revolution," Henry told Benny. "I'll read you a book about the war when we get to the house."

Jessie, Violet, Henry, and Benny lived with their grandfather. After their parents died, they ran away and hid in a railroad boxcar in the woods. They had heard that Grandfather Alden was mean. Even thought they'd never met him, they were afraid. But when he finally found the children, they discovered he wasn't mean at all. Now the children lived with him, and their boxcar was a clubhouse in the backyard.

Watch was the stray dog they'd found on their adventures.

As the first drops of rain began to fall in the cemetery, Watch barked toward a far-off building. It was along another stone pathway past the trees.

"Is that a house?" Benny asked, squinting his eyes. Drops of rain speckled his thick dark-brown hair.

"I think that's the main office," Henry replied, tilting his head to study a squat, brown building. "There's a sign out front. I can't read it, but there's also a parking lot. That's a good clue it's where Mrs. Radcliffe works."

Mrs. Radcliffe was the caretaker of the cemetery. The children had only met her once when they were out with Grandfather. Grandfather Alden had been born in Greenfield and knew practically everyone.

"You're looking the wrong way." Benny tugged on Henry's arm and pointed to the right. He asked again, "I meant is that a house?"

Not very far away, tucked among the gravestones, stood a stone structure, much taller than anything else. It was made of white marble, with carved columns and a triangle roof. The building looked like an ancient Greek temple. Several bouquets of white lilies were lying on the front steps.

"It's not a house," Jessie told Benny. "That's called a mausoleum."

"Maus-a-what?" Benny asked.

Violet began to explain. "It's a fancy kind of grave where—" She was about to tell Benny more, when suddenly, lightning flashed. In the glow, the children saw something move by the mausoleum. "Who's that?" Violet asked.

A shadowy figure emerged from behind the building. It was impossible to tell if it was a man or a woman. Whoever it was had on a black jacket with a hood and was moving fast around the tombstones.

The figure stopped and stood near the big mausoleum. An instant later, a flash of lightning zigzagged across the sky and the figure disappeared.

Watch snarled.

Benny stepped back and put a hand on Watch's head. "Watch is scared," he said, leaning in toward the dog. "He thinks we saw a ghost."

Jessie looked at the nervous expression on Benny's face and said, "We should get out of here."

There was a small wall around the back of the mausoleum. They could easily jump over it. Just past that was a café where they could warm up and wait for Grandfather.

Watch barked as the rain began to pour down in heavy sheets. Thunder rattled soon after the lightning.

As the children began to run, Henry glanced back over his shoulder. "Odd," he mumbled, staring at the spot where the cloaked figure had disappeared. "Something strange is going on in Greenfield Cemetery."


The Greenfield Ghost

Randy's Café was packed with people who had also been caught in the rain. Mr. Randy was standing by the front door, handing out towels and helping hang up jackets.

While Violet called Grandfather to let him know where they were, Henry and Benny searched for seats.

Jessie crossed the café to say hello to a girl she knew.

"Hi, Vita." Jessie pointed at the camera in Vita Gupta's hand. "Out taking pictures of the storm?" Vita's nature photos were blue ribbon prizewinners.

"No. I'm changing focus," Vita said. Her short dark hair shook when she giggled at her own pun. "I'm going to make a movie instead of taking pictures. Miss Wolfson asked me to help make a short film about Greenfield using old photographs from the historical society." Vita indicated the older woman at the table and asked Jessie, "Do you know Martha Wolfson?"

"Of course," Jessie said. She turned to Miss Wolfson. "Hello," Jessie greeted her. "Nice to see you again."

"I met Jessie when she came to visit me at the historical society last summer," Miss Wolfson told Vita. She smoothed some loose strands from her gray hair into her bun with one hand. "Jessie interviewed me for a project about old buildings in Greenfield." Looking around, Miss Wolfson asked, "Is Watch with you?" She smiled. "He's a wonderful dog."

"Watch is over there with Benny and Henry." Jessie pointed to her brothers. "They're looking for a place where we can all sit together. Mr. Randy was very nice to let Watch come into the café during this rainstorm."

"You can join us," Vita said. There were three empty places at the table and something dark on the fourth seat. It was Miss Wolfson's jacket, lying out to dry.

"Hang my jacket on the hook behind you," Miss Wolfson told Jessie. "Then there will be plenty of room for you all." She pointed at an empty spot on the floor near her feet and smiled. "Watch can sit by me. I'll pet him."

Jessie set the jacket on a hook near a large, rain-splattered and steamy window. She waved to get Henry's attention.

Benny came to the table and eyed Miss Wolfson's cookie with a tilted grin.

"Would you like half?" Miss Wolfson asked.

Benny's eyes lit up. "Oh yes, thank you!" he said. He waited patiently as she broke the cookie then ate his half quickly.

Miss Wolfson chuckled and gave Benny the other piece, saying, "Don't spoil your dinner."

"Don't worry," Violet assured her. "Benny's stomach is never full."

Miss Wolfson laughed again.

"Would you like to see a few of the photographs Vita and I have selected for the film so far?" Miss Wolfson brought out a stack of pictures from her purse.

"I love old pictures." Henry leaned in closer.

All the photographs were in black and white. There was one of Greenfield Elementary School, back when it was in a one-room building. There were ten students with a teacher standing in front.

Violet pointed at one of the girls in the picture. "She looks familiar." Violet glanced up at Miss Wolfson. "Is that you?"

Miss Wolfson laughed. "Goodness, no. This was taken before I was born," she told Violet. "But you made a good guess ...That's my mom."

"Your mom!" Benny exclaimed. "She's so little."

"She was about your age when this picture was taken," Miss Wolfson told him. She smiled. "Mom's a whole lot older now."

Benny chuckled.

Jessie pointed at another girl about the same age wearing an old-fashioned dress. "Who's that?"

"Patty Wilson," Miss Wolfson said. "She was my mom's best friend." Miss Wolfson pulled out a different picture taken when Patty was in high school. Her blond hair was tucked under a sleek hat and she was wearing a ruffled skirt.

Patty Wilson was standing in front of a dress shop on Main Street. "Patty worked at Madame LaFonte's Dress Shop. It was the fanciest store in town."

Miss Wolfson put that photograph away and showed Violet another one. "This is Greenfield Children's Hospital," she said, "taken right after it opened, almost a hundred years ago."

"I like that picture the best," Vita said. "Did you know Miss Wolfson volunteers at the new hospital building and donates money to families with sick children?" she asked Jessie.

"That's very nice of you," Jessie told Miss Wolfson.

Miss Wolfson said, "It's a worthy cause."

"I think we should put the hospital images on the movie poster," Vita said. "I'd like to print the two pictures side by side; this one from then and a new one to show what the building looks like now. We can sell the posters to help the hospital raise money."

"The hospital always needs money," Miss Wolfson said, considering it. "I do what I can to help, but it's never enough."

"I'll add music to the movie," Vita said. "And we can interview families about the hospital."

While Vita and Miss Wolfson talked about the hospital pictures, Henry handed Jessie another old photograph. This one was of the cemetery's front gate. It was taken so many years earlier hardly any moss was growing on the tombstones. With the sun shining, the cemetery looked like a beautiful park, not a scary place for ghosts to lurk.

"There was someone spooky in the cemetery today." Benny told Miss Wolfson about the figure they'd seen. "They were by the moose-e-lum," he said.

"Mausoleum, you mean?" Miss Wolfson asked, raising an eyebrow.

"I don't think it was a ghost," Jessie said. "There were flowers on the steps. I've been thinking that whoever we saw probably was there to leave the bouquets."

"Hmm." Miss Wolfson pressed her lips together. "The LaFonte family had that monument specially built." She glanced away from Benny toward the window. "But there are no LaFonte family members left in Greenfield. I don't know who might have left flowers—" She paused to consider. "You know, some people say the cemetery is haunted."

"Really?" Violet's eyes widened.

"I don't believe in ghosts," Benny told Miss Wolfson. "Watch was scared though."

"Is that so?" Miss Wolfson asked, glancing down at the terrier.

The door to the café burst open with the wind. A young man wearing a black jacket and hood was standing in the doorway.

After a long look around at the faces in the shop, the boy marched over to Miss Wolfson and introduced himself. "I'm Marcus Michelson," he said. "I'm a new student at the university. Are you Miss Wolfson?"

"I am," she said.

Benny stood and let Marcus have his place. He sat back down, sharing the edge of Violet's seat.

"I think Marcus is the figure we saw in the cemetery," Henry whispered to Jessie. "He's the right height and he has the right color jacket."

"I'm interested in Greenfield history," Marcus Michelson told Miss Wolfson. He pushed back his coat's hood to reveal short blond hair.

"Is that why you were in the cemetery?" Henry interrupted. Marcus turned to face him. "We saw you standing by the LaFonte mausoleum."

"It couldn't have been me. I never went into the cemetery," Marcus insisted. His green eyes grew wide. "I was outside the gate when I saw a strange figure all dressed in black. I thought it was very suspicious, so I followed—" He looked around the coffee shop. "I was certain whoever it was ducked in here." Marcus shook his head. "I looked around but didn't see anyone who might fit the description. Then I noticed Miss Wolfson." He caught her eye and said, "I've been meaning to call you."

"How can I help you?" Mrs. Wolfson asked.

"Well, I—" Marcus began when suddenly the lights in the coffee shop flickered off. The room plunged into darkness.

Watch jumped onto Jessie's lap.

Benny gave Violet a hug and whispered, "Don't worry. I'll protect you."

"I'll protect you too," Violet said, hugging him back.

When the lights came back on a few moments later, a woman screamed.

Her husband, pale and shaken, pointed to the window behind Henry's head.

A single lily lay across the windowsill. The raindrops on the window glittered on the glass, making the flower shine eerily.

Vita pressed a button on her camera. "Scoot over, please, Jessie," she said, holding the lens to her eye. "I want to record this."

"What's going on?" Jessie asked Miss Wolfson.

Miss Wolfson stared at the flower. She studied the frightened faces of the people in the café. Then she looked directly into the lens of Vita's camera and announced, "The LaFonte ghost has returned."


The LaFonte Mausoleum

"Who's the LaFonte ghost?" Henry asked Miss Wolfson.

"A g-g-ghost?" Benny asked. "There's a real ghost in Greenfield?"

"I thought you didn't believe in ghosts," Jessie said.

Benny raised his shoulders. "That was before we saw something in the cemetery and the lights went out and ... that!" He pointed at the flower. "I've changed my mind." Benny shivered and whispered in Watch's ear, "Ghosts. Yikes."

People in the café gathered around Miss Wolfson as she began to share a bit of history.

"Today is the seventy-fifth anniversary of the death of Madame Jacqueline LaFonte," she told the crowd.

"She was the dressmaker." Jessie picked up the historic photograph of the LaFonte shop on Main Street.

"Yes." Miss Wolfson went on, saying, "Women would come to have dresses made, then stay for tea and conversation." With a small smile she added, "Madame LaFonte was known to give very good advice. Some people even say Jacqueline was a fortune-teller."

"Very interesting," Jessie said, setting the photo on the table and taking a notebook out of her small purse. Jessie wrote down Madame Jacqueline LaFonte's name as a reminder to see if she could find any information about her online. Jessie liked to research interesting people.


Excerpted from The Return of the Graveyard Ghost by GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER. Copyright © 2013 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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