Freehand Resources to download

  • Northern New York, 1804
    This map of Northern New York was made less than a decade before our story takes place.
  • Brown's initial report
    This copy of Brown's initial letter to the Governor of New York with a brief report of the battle was published in the Plattsburgh Republican, nearly two weeks after it was sent.
  • Report of the Battle
    This more complete report on the battle appeared the following week in the Republican.
  • War of 1812 Timeline
    This timeline contains the major events of the war, with emphasis on those that occurred in the Northern theater. Events linked to the story "Freehand" are shown in white.

About Mike Peterson

  • Author and editor Mike Peterson has worked with students and teachers since 1993, creating educational materials that are both engaging and educationally sound. He has given workshops for educators on local, regional, state and national levels, has had articles on educational topics published in a variety of publications, and has won international awards for his youth and community programs. His serial stories have appeared in newspapers throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Bermuda. He has also been a newspaper reporter and editor, radio talk show host, magazine writer and advertising professional.

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Why did you want Caleb to go to war? dhelser @LACS

How could I write a story about the War of 1812 if he didn't?

(The real trick is how to get a kid into such a grown-up situation. Kids want to read about other kids, so I had to create Caleb. Fortunately, in those days, young people DID find themselves in that kind of situation, so I didn't have to make up too much. Keep reading and you'll see that it makes sense, but it does let a young person be in the middle of the action!)

I love the first two chapters. rvinson@ lacs

Why did you chouse the chariters that are in freehand?

Hi I am Michael C @ lacs. I thought that the first two chapters were great! Keep up the good work. 8)

Why is Caleb's father so hard on him? Why doesn't he have some compation for his son? Why does his father disaprove of his drawing if it's a gift he has he should be able to use it?
Lindsay G at lacs

What was your faverit chapter?

Makayla F.

Hello. I'm Brenden S. @lacs. What was your favorite part about writing this story?

Hi it's CMyers @ LACS, why did you choose Caleb for the main character?

why does Caleb draw

This is so exciting; I can't wait to read chapter three. I loved the first and second chapter and I am looking forward to the rest of the chapters too!!!!!!!!!!!I also have two questions for you. My first question is...... does one of the characters represent you or did you just want to write about that? My other question is did you like to draw like the main character? Please write back! Yours truly,

hi mr.peterson my name is dillon h and my qouestion is why did u write this chapter this way

what was your favorite chapter

This Madison S. from lacs.
I love your second chapter!

You haven't read my favorite chapter yet. But each one is special, because each one tells a different part of the story.

Caleb draws because he loves to draw, and it's too bad his stepfather doesn't respect that, because, as Lindsay said, it's a gift. Part of the story is about the war, and part of the story is about Caleb learning to use his gift.

It's important to listen to the conversation between Caleb and his stepbrother, because Mr. McKenzie isn't just mean to Caleb -- he's unpleasant to everybody. He's an unhappy, unpleasant person, and even his own son has learned how to stay out of his way. Some people are just like that, I guess. It's too bad.

I think when you read the whole story, you'll see how the different characters fit in. Caleb is the most interesting, or, at least, I hope you think he is when this is all over!

When did you write the story.

When did you start writing

Hi I'm Sarina. Why is Caleb's stepbrother so mean? Why should Caleb have a mean brother?

I don't think of Alex as being mean, Sarina. He just isn't very thoughtful. But you can ask your classmates -- that's kind of how boys talk to each other.

I've been writing since I was about your age, maybe younger. Like Caleb, I have a talent that I enjoy using! I wrote this particular story just this past fall, just in time to get it ready for the paper.

Why did you put Caleb to war and not his father?

From: Brennan A.

Sarina again. I love how even though Caleb's father is mean, Caleb still draws. All of your chapters are wonderfu!!

Brennan, there are two reasons -- one is that it's a kids' story and I think kids would rather read about another kid having an adventure. But the other is that a lot of men didn't participate in this war, and especially older men who had businesses to take care of and families. That's always been true and it's true today -- the average age of soldiers in Vietnam was about 19, and that's probably pretty close to the average in our current wars, too.

(And thanks, Sarina!)

If you were to be in this story who would you pick? I would pick cpl.Daley.

My favorite character is Alex.

Hi, my name is Kyra H.@lacs.
Why is Caleb whipped, but Alex isn't?
Also, does Alex have any chores?

My favorite character is Caleb.

How did you come up with the story Free Hand and how did you name the characters?

Why is Caleb's father so mean to him ?

Many of these are "wait and see" questions, but let's talk about Alex for a minute, because it's not fair that Caleb gets whipped and Alex doesn't, but let me ask you this: Don't you have any classmates who do all sorts of things they're not supposed to and never seem to get in trouble? Well, Alex is one of those kids. And he's not being mean -- he tells Caleb ways to keep from making Mr. McKenzie angry, but I'm not sure Alex could goof off as much as he does if Caleb wasn't doing most of the work. (Maybe you know someone like that, too -- but shhhhh!)

Why is Calebs dad so mean to him and not alex?

why did calab go to war?

(I think you'll see some of the answers up above in the other comments!)

I wonder why Calebs father has to whip him for every little mistake Caleb makes?

I think that it was mean of Mackenzie to whip Caleb for just progressing with his passion.

Why did you use Caleb as your main character? Does Caleb remind you of yourself or someone that you know?

I don't like how Caleb's dad had beat him.

I wonder why Caleb's Mom didn't save Caleb from the beatings?

This chapter was very interesting!
Why did you pick Caleb and Alex chopping wood? Did you chop wood when you were a kid?

Why did you want Caleb to be whipped and ingured like that?

In this chapter Caleb goes to forthsburg ,and I think that is a good thing because Caleb gets beat.

why does caleb want to go to war?

i think caleb should join the army.

Hi I'm Maddison H. from LACS. I was wondering how you came up with the names of the characters too , just like the other people. This chapter was my favorite so far!

Cakleb should not get hit by his step dad and that would be called child abuse.

A lot of these are "wait and see" questions, and some others can be answered by scrolling up more and reading what has been written before.

But Gretchen, you are right that Caleb is an abused child and that today it would be against the law. Back then, it was different. Spanking was fine, and "switching" a child with a stick was common. But, if a parent was too harsh, sometimes the law would step in, and sometimes the neighbors would step in.

But I wasn't sure how John Gabriel would react, because I know that, in most Indian societies, they never, ever used to spank children. So I asked a historian at Akwesasne, the Mohawk community near Massena, and she said that, no, Mohawks would never treat their children like that in the old days. But she said that, by 1812, the Europeans had been there for 200 years and a Mohawk then would be used to the idea that Americans might treat their children that way. So John Gilbert is disgusted with what he has seen, but you'll see in the next few chapters, he's not the only one!

The saddest part, for me, is that Caleb is ashamed of it, and is embarrassed that John Gabriel feels sorry for him.

I'd feel better if he knew it wasn't his fault, but I wrote it this way because sometimes kids who are abused think it IS their fault. And it isn't, isn't, isn't. Fortunately, that's one of the things I think Caleb is going to learn in this story!

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