CARRABASSETT VALLEY — The Carrabassett Valley Public Library & Community Center is hosting children’s author and educator Julia M. O’Brien-Merrill at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, for a book talk and signing. She wrote “Charlie on the M.T.A. Did he ever return?”

Young readers had better bring an extra nickel along before they hop aboard the “T” to follow Charlie through the streets of Boston in 1949. The full-page illustrations of Caitlin Marquis will take readers on a ride above and below the streets of Boston as they were in Charlie’s time, zooming past familiar landmark — many still standing, some long gone — wondering all the while, will Charlie ever return?

O’Brien-Merrill sets the story straight using original historical documents and the original MTA song lyrics of the mayoral campaign song written by Bess Lomax Hawes and Jackie Steiner for her father, Walter A. O’Brien Jr. The timeline at the end of the book, filled with tidbits of Boston’s history surrounding the time-honored folk song, will inform and enthrall readers young and old.

A lifelong educator and daughter of a librarian and a reading teacher, O’Brien-Merrill has firsthand knowledge of the power of reading illustrated children’s books to teach about the world. She has had the good fortune to teach children in Maine, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York, Tennessee and China.

O’Brien-Merrill was born in Boston and is now living in Maine with her husband, David, and is retired from teaching English as a second language. In “Charlie on the M.T.A. Did He Ever Return?” she has fulfilled both her own and her father’s dream of honoring his commitment to social justice through a book that will teach future generations about a piece of Boston history.


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