The Election Day Dilemma (The Boxcar Children Series #145)

The Election Day Dilemma (The Boxcar Children Series #145)

by Gertrude Chandler Warner (Created by)


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807507223
Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date: 09/01/2016
Series: Boxcar Children Series , #145
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 403,570
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 7 - 10 Years

About the Author

Gertrude Chandler Warner was born in 1890 in Putnam, Connecticut, where she taught school and wrote The Boxcar Children because she had often imagined how delightful it would be to live in a caboose or freight car. Encouraged by the book's success, she went on to write eighteen more stories about the Alden children.

Read an Excerpt

The Election Day Dilemma

By Gertrude Chandler Warner, Anthony VanArsdale

Albert Whitman & Company

Copyright © 2016 Albert Whitman & Company
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8075-0723-0


Not a Good Sign

"There's the sign for Appleville ahead!" Six-year-old Benny Alden called out from the back seat of his grandfather's car. "I see the big apple on it! We're almost there."

"Good. I was afraid we'd be late for Cousin Alice's speech," Benny's sister, twelve-year-old Jessie said. "It's so exciting that she might become the mayor of Appleville."

Henry, who was fourteen and the oldest of the Alden children, checked his watch. "We should make it with plenty of time."

"I can't wait to see Soo Lee. We haven't seen her in a while," Benny's other sister, ten-year-old Violet said. Soo Lee was Cousin Alice and Cousin Joe's daughter. She was about Benny's age and the Alden children always had fun when she was with them.

Suddenly a thump, thump, thump sound came from beneath the car. The car veered to the right as if it was going to go off the road. Grandfather struggled to bring the vehicle under control. Watch, the Aldens' dog, yelped and crouched down on the seat. Everyone held their breath. When the car came to a stop, Violet cried, "What happened?"

Grandfather gave a sigh. "A tire blew out. It happens sometimes. Everyone all right?" he asked.

Jessie checked on Violet and Benny before she replied, "We're fine."

"We may be fine, but I'm not sure Appleville is," Violet said, pointing to a trembling figure out the window.

The car had come to stop right underneath the Appleville sign. Usually the sign welcoming people to the town had an image of a big yellow apple with a smiley face on it and the slogan, Appleville: A Happy Place! in large red letters.

This time it was different. "Something is wrong with the sign," Benny said.

"Someone has been painting on it," Jessie said. A large black bird with a red head had been painted to look like it was flying over the apple, which now had a frown painted over the smile. The word "happy" had been crossed out and a new word painted above it.

"It says 'cursed' doesn't it?" Benny asked. Benny was just learning to read. "It says, 'Appleville: a Cursed Place!'"

"Yes, and there's more," Henry said. "Someone painted on the bottom of the sign too."

Violet's voice was shaky when she read the words aloud. "It says, 'Move Away! You've been warned!'"

Benny hunched down in the seat. "I don't know if I want to go to Appleville anymore. Why would Alice want to be mayor of a cursed town?"

"Someone is just playing a trick," Jessie said, putting her arm around Benny. "A town can't be cursed."

"It's terrible that someone ruined their sign," Violet said.

"It's also illegal," Grandfather added. "Whoever did it is defacing someone else's property."

"I wouldn't want to paint that kind of bird," Violet said. "It's very ugly." Violet was a good artist. She liked to draw and paint birds and animals.

"What kind of bird is it?" Benny asked. He sat up and looked out the window again, feeling a little better.

"It's some type of vulture," Henry said. "See how small its head looks compared to its body? Vultures don't have feathers on their heads so they look strange compared to other birds."

"I wonder why the town hasn't fixed the sign," Jessie said. "It won't make people want to visit Appleville."

"We can ask Alice and Joe, but first we'll have to do something about the tire," Grandfather said before he opened the car door.

"How far are we from Joe and Alice's house? Can we ride our bikes there?" Violet asked. The Alden children's bikes were secured to the bike rack on their grandfather's car.

"It's not very far, but it's getting dark and it's chilly out." Grandfather took his phone out of his pocket. "I'll just call someone to come out and change the tire."

"I can change it," Henry said. "We have a spare tire in the trunk."

"I'll help," Jessie said.

Grandfather thought for a moment and then nodded his head. "It's nice to have such handy grandchildren."

While Henry and Jessie were changing the tire, Violet and Benny got out of the car with Watch to look around. The only house they saw was set back across a field of dead grass. Next to the house were rows of small trees. Behind the house was a forest.

"Those woods look like where we found our boxcar," Violet said.

After their parents had died, the Alden children were scared to go live with their grandfather, not knowing him and fearing he was mean. They had run away and found an old boxcar to live in until their grandfather found them, and they realized he wasn't mean after all.

"It looks spookier than where we had our boxcar," said Benny. The trees behind the house were tall and spindly and crowded close together. Bushes with dark leaves grew underneath the trees so it was hard to see very far into the forest. Benny shivered and glanced back up at the sign and the vulture. "I don't know if I want to wait out here."

"It's only spooky because it's getting dark," Violet said, though she felt a little uneasy too.

"That's a creepy, old house," Benny said. "I wonder if anyone lives there." The house hadn't been painted in a long time. Some of the shutters hung crookedly from the windows.

"I think it's empty. There aren't any lights on and there are weeds all over the yard," Violet said. A flash of red caught Violet's eye. "Look! Maybe someone does live there. There's a woman in a red jacket."

An older woman with white hair wearing a red coat stood by a side porch looking up at the house.

Violet waved and called, "Hello!"

The woman didn't turn around. Instead she walked around the corner of the house until she disappeared from Benny and Violet's view.

"That's strange," Violet said. "She didn't even wave at us."

"We're done!" Henry called.

"We just need to put away the tools and then we can be on our way," Jessie added.

Watch began to growl. "What's wrong, boy?" Benny asked. Watch growled again and then stalked forward, crouched low to the ground.

"He sees a dog over at the house," said Violet. She pointed to a big shaggy brown dog staring at them from the steps of the house.

Watch crept toward the other animal. "Watch, come back!" Violet called. But Watch didn't listen. He leaped forward and dashed off into the tall grass between the car and the house.

The big dog saw Watch running toward him. Even though Watch was much smaller, the shaggy animal acted scared of the little terrier. He turned and ran away into the woods before Watch could reach him.

"Watch!" Violet yelled.

Henry and Jessie heard Violet and hurried over to her and Benny.

"WATCH!" Henry shouted. Watch stopped and looked back over his shoulder.

Jessie whistled. "Watch, come back!" This time Watch listened. He bounded back to the car wagging his tail.

"It's a good thing you didn't get lost," Benny scolded the dog.

"Let's go," Grandfather said. "We should make it just in time."

Everyone piled back in the car. As they drew close to town, they passed another sign. This one showed a smiling white-haired man wearing overalls and a train conductor's hat. Words across the top of the sign read Charlie Ford for Mayor. Vote for Charlie and help Appleville chug into the future!

"That's funny," Benny said. "Towns can't chug like trains. I thought Alice was going to be mayor."

"Only if she gets elected," Jessie explained. "Charlie Ford must be another candidate who is running against her. She'll have to get more votes than he does to win the race."

Benny laughed. "It's funny to say Mr. Ford isrunning against Alice. It sounds like they have to race around a track to see who wins."

"That would be fun to watch but not a good way to decide who is in charge of a town," Henry said.

"I like Mr. Ford's hat," Benny said. "I wish I had a train conductor hat."

"Mr. Ford is lucky no one painted on his sign," Violet said. "I still can't believe someone ruined the town sign."

Benny wished Violet hadn't brought up the Appleville sign. He didn't want to think about a curse.


Hard Times for Appleville

As they drove into Appleville and down Main Street, the Aldens were surprised to pass so many empty stores.

"The town is almost deserted," Henry said. "It's strange not to see anyone walking down the street."

"I remember that building was an art supply store." Violet pointed at a store with an empty window. "But the sign is gone."

"And there was a café over there." Jessie motioned to another building with a for rent sign in the window.

"I remember that place," Benny said. "They had good chocolate milk shakes. And strawberry ones. And vanilla ones. It's making me hungry to think about milk shakes."

Everyone laughed. Benny was always hungry.

"What happened to the movie theater?" Henry asked as they drove past a boarded up building. "The roof is damaged and part of it has fallen in." Yellow caution tape crisscrossed the front of the theater. A ripped and faded movie poster hung in a broken display window.

"I heard they had a terrible fire. It's going to be torn down," Grandfather said.

"That's awful," Violet said. "I don't like to see Appleville like this. It is such a pretty old-fashioned town. Look! The toy store is still in business. And the pet store!" She bounced up and down in her seat, happy to see the store with a window full of pet supplies and posters of cute cats and dogs.

"And the bakery hasn't closed," Henry said. The building next to the pet store was lit up as well. The sign over it had cupcakes painted on it and the words The Eggleston Bakery.

"I don't think it's a bakery now," Jessie said. "Benny, can you read the banner in the window?"

Benny looked up at the sign. "Yes! It says 'Alice Alden for Mayor.' Why is her sign in there?"

"That's Alice's campaign headquarters," Grandfather said. "She told me she had rented space in an empty store."

"But that means there is no bakery and no café in town. That's awful," Benny said.

"Alice and Joe should be able to tell us what's happened," Grandfather said as he parked the car in front of the building.

"Can we bring Watch inside?" Violet asked.

"Yes, but you should put his leash on him," Grandfather said.

"Here." Henry handed a leash back to Violet.

Violet reached down to hook it to Watch's collar, except there was no collar. "We've got a problem," she said. "I can't put a leash on him. His collar is missing."

"Look on the floor of the car. Maybe it fell off," Henry suggested. He took a flashlight out of the glove compartment and gave it to Jessie.

She shined it under the seats. "I don't see it."

"Maybe it fell off when he was running around in that field," Benny said.

"We can go back and look for it tomorrow," Grandfather said. "It's too dark now. I can take him to Joe and Alice's house after we go in and say hello."

"I'm not so sure I want to go back out to that creepy place," Benny said.

"It won't look so spooky in the daytime," Jessie assured him. "Come on, let's go see Soo Lee."

Inside the former bakery, there were several people busy making telephone calls and putting flyers in envelopes.

"It still smells like a bakery," Benny said. "I think I smell cake."

Violet sniffed the air. "I don't smell anything, Benny. You might be imagining the cake smell."

A bald man wearing a suit and a bow tie noticed the Aldens standing in the doorway. He came over to them. "I don't know who you people are," he said, "but if you are looking for the bakery, it closed a few months ago."

Soo Lee spotted them. "They're here! They're here!" she cried. She jumped up and down with excitement and ran over to hug everyone.

"You know these people?" the man with the bow tie asked the girl.

Alice and Joe hurried over. "Mr. Eggleston, it's fine," Alice told the man. "Let me introduce you to more of my family." She made the introductions and then asked Mr. Eggleston, "Didn't you want to get something out of the kitchen?"

"Yes, I did," the man said. "I hope you are sticking to our agreement and not letting anyone go into my kitchen. I don't want any of the equipment damaged."

"No one has been in there," Alice said. "You don't need to worry."

Mr. Eggleston didn't seem convinced. He frowned and went through a door behind the empty display counter. At the same time Grandfather's cell phone rang. He excused himself to go outside and take the call.

"Why did the bakery close?" Jessie asked.

"The town has fallen on hard times," Joe said. "Two of the factories closed down so lots of people lost their jobs. People are moving away to find jobs in other places, so that means there isn't enough business for the stores in town."

Mr. Eggleston came back out of the kitchen carrying an old notebook in time to hear Alice add, "That's why I wanted to run for mayor. I have some ideas which could help."

"Someone needs to do something," Mr. Eggleston said. He frowned at Alice. "I've heard you have some extreme ideas on how to save the town."

"Not extreme. Bold ideas. Come to the speeches tonight and hear what I have to say. Your support would be a big help."

"I suppose I'll come, though I was going to copy some of my old recipes so they won't be lost." Mr. Eggleston brushed some dust off the notebook.

"It won't take long," Alice said. "I'm glad to hear you're going to save those recipes. Mr. Eggleston made the best cakes in town," she told the children. "I miss his grandmother's spice cake he used to sell in the bakery."

This made Mr. Eggleston smile. "I do have some wonderful recipes. My grandmother and my great-grandmother were very good cooks," he said. "We'll see if I ever get to use the recipes again. I should be going. Now remember, don't let anyone go back in the kitchen," he said to Alice.

"I won't," she promised.

After Mr. Eggleston left, Benny said, "I wish the bakery was still open. Spice cake sounds good. Did the factories close and the movie theater burn down because of the curse on the town?"

Alice looked confused so Violet explained. "We saw the Appleville sign about the town curse."

"Oh dear, I thought the sign was supposed to be repaired today," Alice said. "I'm so angry at whoever painted on it. I wish we could find out who did it and why. The sheriff doesn't have any clues."

The Alden children all looked at each other. Henry spoke up. "Maybe we can help find out."

"I know you are good at solving mysteries, but I don't think you can solve this one," Joe said.

"What about the curse on the town?" Benny asked.

Joe ruffled Benny's hair. "Don't worry about that. It's just an old story that's been floating around for years."

"What story?" Benny asked.

"I'll tell you later, but now we need to go or we'll be late," Joe said.

Grandfather came back in. "I'm sorry. I was hoping to stay until after your speech before I had to drive back to Greenfield, but my flight tomorrow morning has been changed. I need to get home tonight. Is it all right if I take Watch to your house?" He explained about the missing collar. "I can put the children's suitcases inside and their bicycles in your garage."

"Of course," Joe said. He told Grandfather where they kept the spare key.

Grandfather said good-bye and went back out the door. After he left, Joe asked the children, "Could you help carry some of the boxes of buttons and hats out to the van? We're going to hand them out at the town hall where the candidates are giving their speeches. All the hats are in a box over there and the boxes filled with buttons are stacked by that table. It will take two of you to carry a button box. They are heavy."

"Violet, do you want to help me with a button box?" Jessie asked her sister.

"Yes," Violet said. "I can't wait to see what they look like."

"You take one side and I'll take the other," Jessie said. When Jessie and Violet lifted the box, it didn't take any effort at all. It was very light.

Jessie shook her end. There was no rattle of buttons from inside the box. "Something is wrong," she said. "I don't think there are buttons in here."

Henry took the box from them and shook it. There was no noise from inside. "That's strange," Henry said. He set the box down and pulled off the tape holding it closed. When he opened up the flaps, they could all see it was empty inside.

"There's nothing in there but bubble wrap," Violet said.

"What about the hats?" Jessie asked.

Soo Lee opened the box labeled "hats." "There aren't any hats!" she cried. "Just bubble wrap in here too."

Benny reached in the box. "There's something else." He pulled out a piece of paper and a big black feather. The paper read, Drop out of the race. Save the town. The feather fell out of Benny's hand onto the floor.


The Story of the Feather

"I don't like this," Benny said. "There was a big black bird on the town sign and now there's a big black feather here."

Alice took the paper from Benny. "What a terrible thing for someone to do! All my hats and buttons! I don't know how my dropping out of the race would save the town," Alice said.

"That piece of paper is nonsense," Joe said. He was angry. "I can't believe someone stole our campaign supplies. I'm going to report this to the sheriff."

"Could you tell us about the curse now, Alice?" Henry asked. "It seems as if the painting on the sign and the missing hats and buttons are part of the same mystery."

"We're going to need all the information we can get in order to solve it," Jessie added.

"I'll tell you, but like I said, it's just an old story," Alice replied. "A long time ago there was a gang of thieves who stole items from stores and houses in town. No one knew who was doing it until a black feather was found underneath a broken window. There was one man who always wore a black turkey vulture feather in his hat — a man named Jim Eggleston."


Excerpted from The Election Day Dilemma by Gertrude Chandler Warner, Anthony VanArsdale. Copyright © 2016 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.

Table of Contents


1. Not a Good Sign,
2. Hard Times for Appleville,
3. The Story of the Feather,
4. Alice Takes the Stage,
5. Who Is Albert Hund?,
6. The House in the Woods,
7. Questions at the Pet Store,
8. A Sweet Idea,
9. The Real Albert,
10. Ready for Election Day!,

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