Catch the Wind: My Journey with Caroline

Published in 2014; author Kathlenn Ernst; illustrators Julie Kolesova and Michael Dwornik

"My Journey" books

These are choose-your-own adventure books written from a first person perspective. Just for ease, I'm going to always pick the first option when I come them, but I'll try to mention the other possible endings. Since the reader is meant to insert herself into the story, the main character (a modern-day pre-teen) isn't named. It would sound to weird to me to summarize the story as, "and then (Historical Characters) and I saw a..." so I'm going to use the author's first name as the main character's name, in this case, Kathleen.


Kathleen is feeling overwhelmed. Her mother recently joined the Navy is about to ship out for eight months. Her father has a job too, so her parents keep talking about grown-up Kathleen will have to be. But her five-year-old twin sisters aren't being told to do extra work. Kathleen feels like she's not being allowed to be worried or scared because her parents are "counting on her," as they keep reminding her. After an outburst of emotion from Kathleen, her mother talks with her about sense of duty to her country, and also to her family. She tries to reassure Kathleen that she'll never go a moment without thinking of her family back home. And she has a gift for Kathleen: a compass that has been passed down through the generations since the War of 1812. She got it from her own father the first time he shipped out with the Navy, and now she's giving it to Kathleen. Kathleen doesn't really grasp the full impact of her new heirloom, but she can tell it's important to her mother. Sensing that Kathleen needs some space, her mother leaves. Then the compass arrow points straight toward Kathleen's heart, and she starts to feel dizzy...

And she finds herself in a new place. A voice from nearby asks if she's also looking for warships. Confused, Kathleen asks for clarification. A girl her age is briefly befuddled as to why Kathleen doesn't know what's going on, but introduces herself as Caroline Abbott and fills Kathleen in on the battle that happened the day before, remarking that 1812 will be an interesting year. Presuming Kathleen to be traveling alone, Caroline invites Kathleen to follow her to her home. But Kathleen is understandably worried that she might not be able to get REALLY home. She grabs the compass and points the arrow away from her heart. The dizziness returns, and Kathleen is back in her own time.

First choice: stay in the present or go back to the past

Kathleen's head is swimming. She reflects on how many men must have joined the Navy during the War of 1812, and how hard it must be on Caroline, who mentioned her father was taken captive. Kathleen's mother is very unlikely to be kidnapped from a ship in the ocean. And with today's modern technology, she can talk with family over Skype and send emails. They'll be able to stay connected better than people deployed in the past. And they can plan a vacation for when she gets back at the start of summer break.

And that's the end. So...I'm going back and picking the second option of returning to the past!

Caroline takes Kathleen to her father's shipyard, which her mother is running in his absence. Her mother is understandably cautious, but when Caroline explains her suspicions (while Kathleen is getting some water just outside the office) that Kathleen's father is in the Navy and Kathleen is alone, her mother agrees that Kathleen can stay with them for a few days. A Navy lieutenant arrives, asking directions to a secluded cove Caroline's father spoke of. Caroline's mother is unsure of its exact location and too busy to leave the shipyard. Caroline volunteers to sail with the lieutenant, and once securing a promise that the crew will do all it can to ensure Caroline's safety, her mother acquiesces. Caroline turns to Kathleen: does she want to come?

Next choice: go on the Navy ship or stay in the shipyard

Kathleen is simultaneously overwhelmed and awestruck by the Navy ship. They're sailing on Lake Ontario, heading for the cove. She sees the earnestness with which everyone moves, even a boy about seven years old getting water for the older men (Caroline mentions some of the "ship's boys" are orphans who are glad to not only have a job and place to stay, but an important purpose). She notes the US flag flying on the ship has only a few stars. She alone on the ship knows that the US will survive the War of 1812, and add thirty-five more stars to its flag. She feels a swell of pride that mother and grandfather and others back in her family line have served the country, starting with this conflict. As the ship arrives at the cove, a sailor spots a British warship. The lieutenant orders a sailor to take Kathleen and Caroline ashore, but Caroline counters that doing so will waste precious time--they need to stop the warship.

Next choice: agree with Caroline or agree with the lieutenant

Kathleen agrees, enthusiastically encouraging the sailors to chase the British ship away. The sailors quickly give chase, and Caroline voices her hope that they capture the enemy sailors. Kathleen regrets her decision: she thought they were just going to scare the British off. But it's too late now; the ship is pitching forward and the sailors are gearing up for a battle. Would it be better to stay safe below deck or is watching the action worth it?

Next choice: go below deck or stay above

The girls duck below deck, out of the way of the busy sailors. One runs by them, calling out that they ship's boy is missing. Without him, the sailors will have to fetch their own gunpowder, slowing their progress in the battle. It's then that Caroline hears a whimpering sound: the ship's boy. The girls find him, crying. It's his first battle, and so much more intense than he expected. Caroline and Kathleen help him collect himself, and as he shows them the gunpowder store and explains his duties, his training comes to back him, along with his confidence. He rushes gunpowder up to the waiting sailors, while Kathleen and Caroline wait out of the way, in the ship's kitchen. After a bit, the cannon fire ceases, and the girls can hear the sailors cheering. The lieutenant finds the girls, visibly relieved that they're unharmed. He confirms that they've captured the British ship, and tells the girls to remain in the kitchen while they sail back to the shipyard. When they're alone again, Kathleen remarks that Caroline's dad is going to be very proud of her for helping the ship's boy, and thus all the sailors. She then reflects that she'll be able to help her own father while her mother's away in the Navy. Her parents usually have date nights on Wednesdays; maybe she can suggest that they do something special on Wednesdays until her mother returns. And one of her younger sisters loves to paint; Kathleen could paint with her. Her other sister has nightmares--Kathleen will leave her door open so she can hear if her sister is scared in the middle of the night.

When they return to the shipyard, Kathleen bids Caroline goodbye. She returns to her own time, and finds her mom. She tells her mom that she understands how important her work in the Navy is, and that she knows she'll do a great job on the ship. Kathleen's mom is very touched by this. Kathleen also promises she'll mind the home front--keeping people's spirits up is important whether it's in the midst of battle or at home.

About Caroline's Time

This section puts the story in its historical context, noting how many women had to take over men's traditional roles, such as running businesses or even aiding the war effort, when their husbands were away fighting or captured or killed.


Dedicated to the readers in Sacketts Harbor for "giving Caroline--and me--such a warm welcome."

One of my friends is in the Navy, and about to leave for a nine-month deployment. But unlike Kathleen's mother, she won't be on a ship; while she's in the medical profession like Kathleen's mom, she'll be in a hospital on dry land.

Something I only recently realized: with the exception of the species called musk ox, and ox isn't a separate kind of cattle from cows. It's a cow used for things like plowing and pulling, often a castrated male. I don't spend much time on farms, and reading books like Farmer Boy I sort of thought of them as separate from dairy and beef cows, but they're the same species, just used as beasts of burden rather than food sources. I feel silly for not realizing it before! I go to the state fair almost every year, and there are never oxen displayed with other livestock--and they even have cavies and rabbits. Surely if an ox were a separate animal there would be some competing for ribbons.

I know part of the convention of these books is that the reader is supposed to be able to insert themselves easily, so the main character isn't named. But it makes them seem a little rude when they never introduce themselves!

Some of the endings are online-only. So, these aren't good books to take anywhere without an internet connection.

Some other possible endings: getting off the Navy ship before the battle can lead to Caroline revealing that her mother's in the Navy (which Caroline of course takes to mean that her mother is disguised as man, because it's 1812) and Caroline asking Kathleen to tell her mother that's she's proud and impressed, which Kathleen realize she hasn't told her own mother that she's proud of her, or her father for putting on a brave face when he's worried about his wife; staying on deck during the battle can give Kathleen the chance to use her twenty-first century first aid training to help a wounded soldier, which inspires her to volunteer at a hospital to keep her mind occupied while her mother's away; spotting a British warship from the land and alerting the Navy (rather than chasing themselves) can lead Kathleen to realize that she wants to be more responsible and take on more duties at home; going on a raid of an island held by the British and finding a British girl their age but letting her remain hidden can cause Kathleen to reflect on how her mother might have agonized over her decision to join the Navy, balancing her sense of duty to her family and her sense of duty to her country, leading to a new-found respect for her mother; or reluctantly escorting the girl to the victorious Americans, who refuse to take women or girls captive and send the girl back to her mother, shows Kathleen how brave the girl is and how strongly she wants to support her family, inspiring her to help her family; Kathleen's adventure can show her to think of others and how to help her family rather than getting wrapped up in her sadness; helping an injured man write a letter to his family can remind Kathleen how much she truly loves her own; getting overturned in Lake Ontario and facing her fear of deep water can give Kathleen confidence; briefly getting a job at a boarding house (which Caroline takes over on a part-time basis when Kathleen reveals she must return home) gives Kathleen a good work ethic; helping a young girl whose mother is too ill to work and whose father is an alcoholic gives Kathleen a new perspective on her family, which isn't perfect, but is functional and loving.


Vanessa Hodges said...

Hi SJSiff,
Hope you’re doing well! I’m reaching out as a fellow Baby-Sitters Club fan and wanted to let you know that some friends and I recently created a BSC web series. It’s called “Stoneybrook Revisited: A Baby-Sitters Club Fan Film” and catches up with Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey, and Dawn in the modern day.
We just launched our trailer -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDqxSrPbvjY. I would love if you’d be able to take a look! And if you like it, a share from our production Facebook page would be really appreciated. https://www.facebook.com/applejuiceproductions/ We made this with a lot of love for the BSC and hope to reach as many fans as possible.
I’m happy to answer any questions. We’re all about making new BSC fan friends!

SJSiff said...

Thanks for letting me know! I'm not very active on Facebook, but I'll definitely take a look at your trailer.

Vanessa Hodges said...

Our series launches on the 20th so be sure to check it out! We love sharing this with other BSC fans!

SJSiff said...

One more day; I'm excited! Thanks, Vanessa.