- Caroline Abbott
- Mama Abbott
- Mr. Tate
- Lieutenant Melancthon Taylor Woolsey
- Grandmother Livingston
- Seth Whittleslee
- Hosea Barton
Only in Catch the Wind
- Protagonist: A girl who travels back into the past with a compass that currently belongs to her mother. Her favorite season is summer and her least favorite activity is swimming. She's anxious about her mother going off on her navy ship, fearing she could get hurt. She's also concerned about the lack of time she'll get to spend with her friends, as her father would need her help doing extra chores around the house and caring for her younger sisters. She doubts she can be brave for her family, especially with her mother being away and having mixed emotions over her departure..
- Mom: Protagonist's mother. She's an army doctor and will be going off on her navy ship for eight months, leaving her husband and the Protagonist to do the housework. She understands the Protagonist's feelings over her departure and knows she'll also be missing her family, but she's still willing to leave as she's proud of serving her country and continuing her family's tradition of service. She gives the Protagonist a compass that had been passed down in her family for generations, hoping it will reminds her to steer a steady course while she's away and of her family's tradition of service. She had received the compass from her father when he was shipped off on a sea voyage. The Protagonist feels her parents are giving her too many responsibilities while her younger sisters don't get anything, making her resent being the eldest child. Her compass triggers the time travel for the Protagonist.
- Dad: Protagonist's father. He works as a hospital operator. The Protagonist feels her parents are giving her too many responsibilities while her younger sisters don't get anything, making her resent being the eldest child.
- Britney and Sasha: Protagonist's five year old sisters.
Opening and Potential Plot Events
The protagonist's younger sisters, Britney and Sasha, haul a photo album into the kitchen. She remembers how fun it was to make the album after the family's camping trip the previous summer, but she doesn't want to see it. Because her mother joined the U.S. Navy and will be on her ship for eight months, the family won't be going on their camping trip. Sasha places the album on the table and Mom smiles at a photo from their previous trip. Mom asks the protagonist to place the dishes in the dishwasher, and the protagonist, feeling her emotions boiling over, shouts that she doesn’t want to. Despite the look she gets from her mother, she continues that she doesn’t want Mom to leave and wishes she had never joined the navy. Dad tells her to apologize and the protagonist, upset over her father’s anger, slams the door as she runs outside. She runs across the lawn and down a path that leads through the forest to the pond – the protagonist’s special place. She plops on the lawn and cries, bringing her knees up and burying her face in her arms. Thinking about her little sisters make her angry because they weren’t told by their parents to do extra chores or that they had to be extra brave.
After a while the protagonist stops crying and hears her Mom behind her, offering a tissue. She’s afraid Mom is going to scold her, but instead is given an apology for how hard things have been for her. The protagonist begs for her to stay home and Mom asks what she was afraid of. Surprised her mother knew of her apprehensiveness, the protagonist struggles to explain of everything she’s afraid of: having no time to spend with her friends to help Dad care for the twins; missing Mom and worrying she’ll get hurt; and imagining her Mom sailing away. Mom assured her that the ship she’ll be on will be safe and insists that while she doesn’t want to be away, she’s also proud of serving her country as a navy doctor as her family has a long history of serving in the navy. She adds that she also wants to make the world a safer place for her daughters and for their children, too. When told that she needs to try to be brave, the protagonist recalls Dad telling her to be extra brave on the day Mom leaves. The protagonist feel’s her eyes tearing up as she thinks about her Mom’s departure, and she thinks about hiding at the pond instead of seeing her Mom off.
After a few minutes, Mom hands the protagonist a present: a compass that been passed down in her family for generations, dating back to the War of 1812. Mom explains that she hops the compass will remind the protagonist to steer a steady course while she’s away – and of her family’s tradition of service. The protagonist feels that the compass will only remind her that Mom chose the Navy over staying with her family. She tries to give the compass back, but her mother refuses and walks back to the house. Alone, she doesn’t feel like being with her family, talking about her Mom going away, and wants nothing to do with the compass. She’s tempted to throw the compass into the pond, but doesn’t. She turns the compass, noticing the needle keeps pointing north – at her, as if aiming for her heart. After noticing a hummingbird hovering nearby, the protagonist feels movement coming from the water. She turns and sees her reflection trembling. The water ripples and sloshes until her refection disappears and she closes her eyes, still clutching the compass.
When she opens her eyes, the protagonist gazes at her reflection and notices that she’s wearing a bonnet. She also notices that she’s wearing an empire-waist dress. Caroline (Whom she doesn’t know yet) approaches her and asks if she’s looking for warships. She looks over Lake Ontario and comments that they’re out there. Caroline and the protagonist introduce themselves, the protagonist explaining she had just arrived to Sackets Harbor. Caroline details the First Battle of Sackets Harbor, proudly adding she had helped. She asks the protagonist if she’s traveling by herself, and the protagonist goes along. Caroline sighs, stating she believes 1812 will be a difficult year. She looks over the lake again and tells the protagonist her father is a prisoner of war. The protagonist comforts her and squeezes her hand. Then she remembers that she’s still holding onto the compass and, deciding to aim the needle away from her, leaves Caroline, claiming she may had dropped something. She hurries around a rock outcropping and begins to sidestep until the needle points away from her. Her dizziness fading, the protagonist finds herself by the pond at the exact moment she had left.
After this opening, events vary according to choices made. (Uniquely, the protagonist may not choose to return to 1812, and instead reflects on her own life situation.)
- The protagonist returns to 1812 to comfort Caroline and learns more about her father. After hearing cannon fire, the girls run to Abbott's Shipyard, where the protagonist meets Mr. Tate and Mrs. Abbott.
- The protagonist and Caroline board Lieutenant Woolsey's schooner and help guide it to a cove near Mallard Bay. The girls can either be dropped off near Mallard Bay or join the ship's crew as they chase a British ship.
- The protagonist and Caroline go to the Abbotts' house and assist Mrs. Livingston with the bread baking. The protagonist can choose to help by hemming nightshirts or washing the dishes.
- The protagonist spends a night at Caroline's house, eating dinner and watching Mrs. Livingston make bullets.
- The protagonist and Caroline transport Seth to Pine Island and assist in a raid on the British fort by watching over the boats, as the men raid the fort.
- The protagonist and Caroline sail on Lake Ontario and spot a British schooner. The girls can either sail to Abbott's Shipyard to report the ship to Mr. Tate or attempt to chase it themselves, resulting in them going overboard into the lake.
- The protagonist and Caroline deliver nightshirts to the hospital, where the protagonist meets an injured patient and writes a letter for him. Online endings include following a young girl inside a tavern or visiting an inn and assisting the innkeeper by scrubbing the dining room floor.
- The protagonist and Caroline spot Jed on the beach and, suspecting him of stealing an adze from Abbott's Shipyard, follow and later confront him.
Regardless of the ending that is arrived at, the protagonist eventually returns to her own time using the compass, and returns at the exact moment she left. She makes proper goodbyes to Caroline and generally says she has to go back to her family (which Caroline believes she is separated from). The protagonist returns with a new-found appreciation of her life. This often includes understanding her mother's feelings about serving in the navy, learning the importance of making one's own decisions (including good ones) and following them through, and seeing how much her father and sisters would need her after her mother's departure.
Discusses America's relations with Britain and how people were affected by the War of 1812. Topics covered:
- Britain's refusal to accept America's independence, leading to the impressment of American sailors by the British navy.
- American ships being blocked by Britain to trade in foreign ports, and the trouble Britain caused for American settlers heading West.
- How Sackets Harbor, New York had changed following the beginning of the war, with the village now serving as the headquarters for the U.S. navy on the Great Lakes.
- The American navy working feverishly to erect forts, build warships and bring in troops following the First Battle of Sackets Harbor.
- The military and naval separation between men and their families, with some men going off to join volunteer militia groups and others being imprisioned by the British.
- The increase in workload for women and children, especially for women forced to look after their husbands' businesses in their husbands' absence.
- Betsy Doyle, who took over her husband's position at Fort Niagara following his capture by the British.
- Americans being able to prove they could protect their country's independence against the British following the war's end in 1815.
- Pg 13: "So you don't know about yesterday's battle," Caroline says. "British ships formed a line in front of Sackets Harbor and fired cannonballs at us! It lasted for hours." [...] "But our gun crew fired back," Caroline's saying proudly. "And I helped!" Since she's just a kid, I can't imagine how she was able to help a gun crew. The First Battle of Sacket's Harbor occurred on July 19, 1812, and in Meet Caroline, Caroline sacrifices Grandmother Livingston's rug to help fight the British navy.
- Pg 14: Caroline looks over the lake again, and her blue-green eyes fill with a sadness so deep that it makes my own heart ache. "My papa is a prisoner of war." John Abbott was taken prisoner in Meet Caroline and doesn't return home until the end of Caroline Takes a Chance.