On Tide Mill Lane (The Charlotte Years Book Two)


It's 1814, and winter is coming to Boston. While Charlotte is busy helping Mama take care of the house and care for her baby sister, Mary, she's also worried about her friend Will, who is marching north with the militia. Then comes a sign that the war may be over!

Follows the experiences over the course of a year of five-year-old Charlotte Tucker, who would grow up to become the grandmother of Laura Ingalls Wilder, living with her ...

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It's 1814, and winter is coming to Boston. While Charlotte is busy helping Mama take care of the house and care for her baby sister, Mary, she's also worried about her friend Will, who is marching north with the militia. Then comes a sign that the war may be over!

Follows the experiences over the course of a year of five-year-old Charlotte Tucker, who would grow up to become the grandmother of Laura Ingalls Wilder, living with her family in Roxbury, Massachusetts, during the War of 1812.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Young and old readers alike who fell in love with the "Little House on the Prairie" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, will equally enjoy these new tales of Laura's grandmother. Traveling back two generations, On Tide Mill Lane tells the story of Charlotte Tucker—a young girl living in Roxbury, Massachusetts during the time of the war of 1812. In Laura Ingalls Wilder style, we learn about both history and every day life through the experiences of a young family. Charlotte relates tales of cornhusking and candlemaking along with the pealing bells announcing the end of the war and a frightful encounter with sickness and fever. Short chapters and the appealing young voice of Charlotte make this an excellent read-aloud for elementary-aged children. And for Laura fans, On Tide Mill Lane provides a glimpse into the family heritage and memories of a most beloved character. 2001, HarperCollins, $16.95. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Leah Hanson
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061148293
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/4/2007
  • Series: Little House Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Melissa Wiley, the author of the Charlotte Years and the Martha Years series, has done extensive research on early-nineteenth-century New England life. She lives in Virginia with her husband, Scott, and her daughters, Kate, Erin, and Eileen.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Cornhusking

Darkness had settled upon the house on Tide Mill Lane when Mama and Charlotte and Lydia came out of the lean-to in their everyday bonnets and their warm wool cloaks. Mama carried a pie in a basket over her arm, and baby Mary was snuggled on Mama's hip with the gray cloak tucked up around her. For once Mary did not wriggle to be put down; her face peeped out from the cozy woolen folds.

Charlotte and Lydia pulled their cloaks tight at the necks. A cold wind was blowing, a thin persistent wind that slipped in through the crannies and whispered in Charlotte's ears. Autumn has come, it said, winter soon will follow.

Papa and the boys were just coming out of the barn. In the glow from Papa's lantern Charlotte could see their red noses and ears. Lewis and Tom, her brothers, were blowing on their hands and rubbing them together.

“Whew!” said Papa. “Heath picked a cold night for it, didna he?”

“It'll be warm enough in his barn, with half the town there jawin',” Mama said.

“Come, let's get over there before the baby takes a chill.”

Papa nodded. “Aye. Carry the pie for ye, shall I?” He helped slide the basket off Mama's arm. With her usual brisk step Mama led the way across the road and past Papa's blacksmith shop and the trees behind it. Charlotte seldom saw the shop like that, with its great wide doors shut and bolted. Papa had closed up a little early tonight, for Mr. John Heath was having a cornhusking.

Mr. Heath's farm was just over the hill, across a stubbly hay meadow and an empty cornfield in which the last dry stalks of corn rattled like paper in the wind. All throughAugust and September the farms around Roxbury had hummed with the work of cutting hay and packing it into barn lofts, and of harvesting the corn and the pumpkins, the oats and the rye, the apples and quince and pears.

Now it was time for canning and preserving, husking and storing, making ready for the long, bitter winter. The air held the sharp smell of frost, and the leaves on the maples glowed a red orange as bright as Mama's hair.

Lewis ran ahead through the cornfield, leaping over the tilted stalks, intent on reaching the Heath place first.

“Last one there's a withered ear,” he called back over his shoulder.Tom sprinted to catch up; his breath puffed out in little clouds that hung upon the air. In his bulky woolen coat Tom looked stouter than ever, but he ran swift as a deer when he wanted to. He hardly ever did want to, but he couldn't stand to hear Lewis crowing over winning.

“I don't see why Tom bothers,” Lydia said. She was trailing dreamily behind Charlotte, twirling a bit of cornstalk between her fingers. “He can't ever catch up to Lewis. Imagine, a little child not yet eight beating a boy who's going on thirteen.”

Mama, striding along beside Papa, turned to look at Lydia. “Would you listen to that?” Mama teased, “‘A little child,' says she. I suppose you think you're quite an auld woman, Miss Lydia—nine years old as you are.” Papa chuckled. “If she's an auld woman, that makes you ancient as the hills, Martha,” he said.

Mama snorted. “Ancient I may be, but I could still beat you in a footrace, Lew Tucker.”

“I dinna doubt that,” Papa said earnestly. His voice was so grave that it made Charlotte laugh. It was strange and exciting to be out after candle time, with the veil of night fallen over the world and the stars piercing the air one by one.

After a while she saw a glow of yellow light over Mama's shoulder—a lantern, hanging in the wide-open doorway of a barn. That was Mr. Heath's barn, and it was full of people.

Voices called out greetings to Mama and Papa. The barn was noisy and warm. A young lady came to Charlotte and kissed her cheek. She was Miss Heath, and she had been Charlotte's teacher last summer. She had pink cheeks and sparkling eyes, and her face was framed with long spiraling curls that had been made with a hot iron rod. Her voice was high and merry. Miss Heath did not seem much like a teacher now. She whirled off to speak to another new arrival, her curls swinging out behind her.

“She's Amelia tonight,” Charlotte whispered to Lydia.

“She's always Amelia,” said Lydia, confused. “That's her name.”

Charlotte didn't try to explain. Lydia was not the sort of person to whom it was easy to explain things.

Mama was; she had a way of seeing at once what you meant when you talked about things like your teacher having a “Miss Heath” self and an “Amelia” self. But Mama was deep in conversation with Mrs. John Heath, who was Miss Heath's mother, of course. Charlotte knew she must not interrupt.

The barn was crowded. On either side of a wide center walkway were great banks of hay stacked from floor to ceiling. Against one of the walls of hay was a mound of corn, hundreds of unhusked ears tumbled together. On the other side was a smaller pile of husked corn, yellow as summer. The earthen floor in between was covered with a pale green carpet of discarded corn husks. And everywhere were people'half the town, indeed, it seemed, just as Mama had said.

At any rate, half of the people who were left now that the militia had been called into service. Most of the young men of Roxbury, and many of the fathers, had gone away to defend coastal towns against attacks from the British.

Charlotte's own papa would have had to go, if he had not been the town blacksmith. Roxbury could not do without a blacksmith for months on end.

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