Time and Again: my review


Time and Again: Charlotte of Miles Station

Deborah Heal

 

 

Creativity and ingenuity are two ways that educators can motivate their students. First impressions often set the tone for relationships, job interviews or first meetings. Not all jobs as you will learn are created for your enjoyment or convenience yet we hope our career choices will yield more than just a monetary reward. Educators face many stumbling blocks each day when they try to impart their knowledge to their students. Abby Thomas is hoping to complete a service project she has been assigned for Ambassador College during her summer break. Forgoing a trip to Europe with her friend she embarks on a new adventure that would take her to a town that no longer has flair, energy or color where the people have resigned themselves to their way of life and where one young adolescent named Merredith is about to test not only her patience, her skills as a potential educator but her stamina and persistence too. Merredith’s family is not well to do. She and her mother live in an old house her mother inherited. Merredith is an underachiever.  She also neglects her personal care making it hard for people to be too close to her and a mother that is compensating for her separation from her father by indulging her every whim including over doing it with chocolate treats. Kids love computer games and programs and Merredith is a true example of a computer game addict who eats herself into Kit Kat oblivion daily. Merredith does not want to deal with Abby and makes it quite clear that she does not want her interfering in her life in any way. Her attitude and reception when she meets her lets the reader know that Abby has her work cut out for her and success is going to be a long way down the road for both of them. But, sometimes intelligence, creativity and a smart young woman can overcome more than just the barriers and obstacles placed in front of her in order to help this young child.

 

As the author allows the reader to get to know Merredith we see that she also harbors some resentment when dealing with her mother and her separation from her father and the late night phone calls to connect with him let you know that she wants the relationship but he might not. Buying her all the computer programs and a state of the art phone help this young child justify in her own mind that her father is there for her and that he cares. But, does he? Hating where she lives and feeling that this is just a stopgap for her before she returns to Chicago she relates her feelings to Abby. Yet, when Abby confronts Pat, Merredith’s mother about her father she states she will block any visits but not why.

 

Abby forges ahead with preparing lessons for her from antiquated textbooks that are provided by the mother. So what secrets can she find in them and what happens she notices that the Merredith’s computer turns on by itself and a blue light flashes and something amazing appears on the screen. Beautiful House flashes across the screen” Take A Virtual Tour. Could this computer program be the answer to her problems? Is this computer trying to tell her something? This house is quite old and the history behind it quite compelling. The information she learns is about a young girl named Charlotte that lived in this same house and the town was called Miles Station. Just how all of this comes to light is quite interesting as Abby finally convinces her student to take a tour of the neighborhood, meet some of the colorful people and learn about where she lives. Interactive learning motivates young learners and adults too. It can ignite a spark that would ordinary go unlit and if approached and used the right way a computer program can take a child to new heights of learning. As they venture out in the neighborhood they see a young boy on the tracks and save him from injury. Going to his home they meet some very interesting people especially Mrs. Arnold. She seems to know a lot about the history of the town, the people and who lived in the house her mother inherited. Using this tactic she manages to ignite some interest in her but does not pick up on something she says she sees on the computer until after they come home. Beautiful House is the key to everything and what they find out when they take the virtual tour simply amazing. Miles Station is the name of the town and the young girl that lived there was Charlotte Miles. When Abby and Merredith look closely at the house on the screen she notices a young girl on the screen. Will Charlotte take them back in time to learn more? What else does Mrs. Arnold share besides her knowledge of gardening and making great treats? Find the soul of the house! What does that really mean? Finding a Plat Map of the house ignites excitement at least in Abby and some interest in Merredith. Getting her to do learn her multiplication tables and number facts her first success.

 

When Abby and Merredith find the lock key to the Virtual Reality Tour and they enter the world of Charlotte and her father Jonathan Miles. Hearing her voice, learning about the hard life she lived and more about the town brought them closer to together as they decided to explore more of neighborhood, find the old train station that was in the Virtual Tour and learn more about the house. But, Abby decides to go to church and during her time there she not only meets some special people but one special young man named John. Sometimes life hands us something that might be difficult to endure and then something really special as Abby even realizes how important it is to thank our parents for all they do and have done for us. That is what makes this novel so special and unique that the author reminds younger people and adults to embrace family love, education and learning.

 

As the author and Merrideth take us back in time we meet Charlotte, get to know her family and the excitement she must have felt when she was introduced to Abraham Lincoln. He is one President that I would have loved to have met too. This is a creative way to teach history, encourage independent learning and customs that children should learn about the past and perhaps use in the present. But, the research continued and the author shares more about Lincoln before he became President and the Lincoln Douglas Debates. Merrideth realizes that Charlotte’s life was not easy and that she cooked baked and took care of her father most of the time and never got to the Alton State Fair. Would she learn to appreciate where she lived the history? What would she learn from Charlotte to help her appreciate her life in the present? What about Abby’s project?

 

What happened to Charlotte and her life you will have to learn for yourself when you join Abby and Merrideth and take the journey back in time with them. Just how this ends you won’t believe. The research about this town the people and Miles Station is all explained in the note from the author at the end of the book. What will Merrideth learn about life in her town next? Will she ever resolve herself to her life? Will she ever realize just how special and smart she is and why who she is makes her special? The author brings to light what happens when kids are mean to Michael who might be learning disabled but capable of doing quite a lot. Meet Mrs. Arnold you will love her and want to learn more about her and her connection to the Miles family. Learn more about Charlotte and what happens to her and why President Lincoln made a huge difference during the war and the important part he played in our history. This is a great book for young readers and teachers to use to show that there are many ways to stimulate learning and get reluctant readers to want to explore history, math and even English.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

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