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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Hi I`m Phoebe J. from LACS. I was wondering, why does Caleb's stepfather always punish him when he's caught drawing? He gets his work done, so why can't he take a break to draw? Please reply as soon as posible.

If Caleb's stepfather is so mean to him, then why doesn't Caleb tell his mother? Would she even do anything about it if Caleb did tell?

This was a great story. I loved all the details. It made me mad that Alex told Dan M. that her ran away.

Mr. Peterson,
I love your story so far! It's so interesting. I can't believe how stern Caleb's father is! If I was Caleb, I would probably want to run away to. I can't wait to find out what happens to Caleb and Alex in chapter five.
Judah B.

Angelina, let's be fair to Alex -- he told his father that Caleb ran away a different direction, so he made it easier for Caleb to get away, because his stepdad is going all the way up to Ogdensburg, and then he's going to look all over town for him. By the time he figures out that Caleb isn't there, the soldiers will be far away. So that part of what Alex did was good, really.

And sometimes mothers can't help very much in those situations. Today, kids can go to their guidance counselors, or their ministers or their teachers or their doctors, but in a little country place like that, Caleb was pretty much on his own to handle the problem, wasn't he? We'll see how it comes out.

do you hsve any other books if so what are they

Freehand is my 16th newspaper serial story, but a couple of those were older stories that I edited for modern kids. It's the 11th that I've written myself.

Hi I wonder why Caleb doesn't just draw after he is done with chores.

Hey Mike, My name is b.sagraves I like your serial story it's interesting how you add suspense. I really thought that it was the british that was behind them but, it turned out to be his stepbrother.Thanks for the great story keep up the great work reaspond if you can thanks!!!!!

I liked how you made the soilders tell Caleb's stepdad off.

Why did those solder make Caleb take his shirt off and why did his father beat him?

I can't beleive how many lashings Caleb has on his back.
I think Caleb has a reason to run away from his stepdad.

Why did you make Caleb's stepdad so cheep?

Yuor's truely,Jamie

I was wondering what inspired you to write this story?

I think some of these questions -- especially about Caleb's stepfather -- are things that, if you talked about it in class, you'd figure it out!

But Tyler's question is more complicated: The problem is that Dan McKenzie doesn't think drawing is important, so, when he sees Caleb drawing, he thinks, well, there's something more important he should be doing. It's hard to say when you have "enough" firewood, for instance. So when he sees Caleb drawing, he thinks he ought to cut more firewood. And there are always things like sweeping the floor, dusting shelves, straightening things out, that could be done. (Alex pretends to be busy when he isn't, so he doesn't get in trouble!)

And I wanted the soldiers to stand up for Caleb, because it was important to show that the way Dan McKenzie treats him was unfair even back then when parents did sometimes beat their kids with switches. But now we've seen that the soldiers think it's too harsh, and that John Gabriel thinks it's too harsh, so the reader knows that this isn't just "the way things were back then."

I love this chapter where they let Caleb stay because of his back. Your stories are so cool!

Thanks! And I liked the idea that they didn't argue with their sergeant -- they just let him see why they were letting Caleb come with them. Sometimes "actions speak louder than words" and showing is better than telling.

Hi, my name is McKenna S. and I go to Lowville Academy Central School. I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next chapter. I think your story is really good, but I do have a question for you. I was wondering what inspired you to write this story? Please reply as soon as you can.

Hi, :)..I was just wondering, why dose the dad hate the fact that his son is gifted in art??

Hi i'm imathieu@lacs. Does Alex get to to tag along with Forsyths men, for the rest of the trip?

It's hard to explain inspiration. Some people are just storytellers, I guess, like some people are good at math and some people are good at fixing things and some people are good musicians.

Why does Dan hate Caleb's art? Because he doesn't want to do it himself, so he thinks it's not something anybody should want to do. Kind of sad, isn't it? But some people are like that.

Why did you have Caleb take his shirt off?

Mr.Peterson why did you make caleb take his shirt of and show of his whipping marks from his dad

I really enjoyed this chapter of freehand!
This chapter was super interesting!
I wonder why you had Caleb take his shrit off?

Mr.Peterson why did you make caleb take his shirt of and show his whipping marks?

I am glad that Caleb went with the soldiers.

Mr.Peterson i thought that when you made caleb take his shirt of that was differnt ive never seen somebody do that.

I think it was nice of Daley to let Caleb "accidentally" come with them instead of staying at his house and get beaten by his father.

Why did you make it so that sargent and Dan McKenzie didn't know that Caleb was leaving?

Emily, if Dan McKenzie knew that Caleb was running away, he would have stopped him. And the sergeant might have said no, so they decided to let him come and see if he'd let him stay.

Now, here's some homework for the kids reading these comments: Several people have asked why Cpl. Daley had Caleb take off his shirt, and I don't want to explain it, so would somebody please make a comment to explain why he did that?

Hi, my name is Gianna C. I love the serial story Freehand! It is now one of my favorite stories. But I just have one question. Will you write more serial stories in the future? I hope to look forward in reading your response. Thank you!

Next year, I'll have a story about the Civil War. It's the 150th anniversary of that war, and the 200th of the War of 1812, so we wanted to write about both of them. I don't know quite what it will be about yet, but I'm starting to think about it -- I'll write it this summer.

Hi Mr.Peterson i'm Nicole O. from LACS i was wondering why Calebs father beat him so much when he was cougth drawing? Looking forward for your response

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