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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Mr. Peterson,

Is the setting of Freehand around Sackets Harbor because you have family there or just because the War of 1812 took place there?


Hi my name is jonathan. I am wondering why you make the general have many jobs.

What other books have you wrote that are similar to this book? This book has been very good and keeps me sitting on the end of my chair. Can you give me some tips on taking the New York state ELA test?

Hello. I am KaitlynnC@LACS. I really like this serial story. I was almost afraid when the man appeared behind Caleb. Is this the first serial story you have ever written? Have you written any articles or books before this? I love reading anything set in earlier times or about wars. I'm just a huge fan of this serial story.

Hi my name is cc. Why did you pick the war of 1812?

I love this serial story alot because i am a writer

yours truely ,
rvinson@ lacs

Dear Mr.Peterson

Why did General Brown want a map of the area from Caleb?

I feel bad for Caleb because his father switches him. If you were to take this years E.L.A. test, what would be your grade?

Yours Truely,

If you were in the story how would you like to be the general or Caleb? Posted by d dickinson

You guys seem to be worried about the ELA. I can't help you much because that was my best subject, so I didn't have to try very hard to get good grades in it -- that's why I'm a writer today!

But I didn't do so well at math, so I can tell you what I learned there: It doesn't help to worry! Do your best and remember that these tests help your teachers figure out what you need to work harder on.

I've been writing at least one serial story each year for the last 10 years, and we chose the War of 1812 this year because it's the bicentennial of that war.

Sackets Harbor was a good battle to write about, but I didn't grow up there. I grew up in Star Lake, which is over in St. Lawrence County.

And Jonathan, your question is the easiest to answer: Jacob Brown DID have all those jobs in real life! (He was quite an important and interesting man.)

what inspired you to write the story freehand

Well, the first inspiration is that I'm a writer and that's how I make my living. That's a pretty important inspiration! But I wanted to tell about the War of 1812 and also provide a lesson about character, which I think you'll figure out by the end of the story.

Did you have any chaallanges writting this story?

Dear Mr. Peterson,
You are a really good writer. I want to be an author when I grow up. How do you come up with your stories.

Part of coming up with stories has to do with reading a lot of other stories. You don't copy them, of course, but you learn how to be a good storyteller and you learn what sorts of stories are fun and interesting. For instance, there are a lot of stories in which younger people get to meet and be near famous people from history, because it helps young readers think about what it would be like to be there themselves. So I started there, and then saw the facts of the war and began to fit my characters around those facts and famous people!

Mr. Peterson
What made you have a stranger come and talk to Caleb?

It is Brennan again,we are reading "A boy at war" in Reading class. I pondered about a good question. The question was if that Mrs.Swerdoski thought or knew that you read "A boy at war" and it inspired you to write more.Did this inspire you at all?

Haven't read that one, Brennan. But I've read lots of books by G.A. Henty, who lived 100 years ago and wrote books in the late 1800s for young boys. In his stories, brave young boys were always going off to war and having adventures, and it was a good way to teach history. He was a war correspondent, so he really knew what it was like, and, in his stories, the boys didn't act like superheroes. They acted like smart, brave boys would act in some scary situations. I learned a lot from his books, even though they were written back when my grandfather was even too young to read them (and I'm a grandfather now myself!)

I wonder why the general was so formal and wasn't mean to Caleb?

I think the general isn't very mean but really nice to Caleb.

Have you written any other stories?

Hi my name is Spencer, I have seen General Brown's house many times in Brownville, New York.

Mr.Peterson, have you seen General Brown's house in Brownville?

I wish I could see what Caleb's drawings look like.

Q: Were you like Caleb , a good artist when you were his or did you just make a story with a good kid artist?
Comment: If I were Caleb in this chapter I wouldn't of been able to have drawn a map of Sackets Harbor From my memory.

I haven't seen General Brown's house, Spencer, but I'd like to. I went over to Sackets Harbor and walked around the battlefield before I wrote the story, but I didn't go down to Brownville -- maybe I'll do that on my next trip up there. He was a very talented, smart man!

And Mason, no, I'm a writer, not an artist. But Christopher, who is the artist for this story, really liked it. I made Caleb an artist because I wanted him to have a particular talent that would be useful, but that his stepfather might think was a waste of time.

Sawyer, I like the idea that we only get little glimpses of Caleb's work -- that way, you can imagine that he's amazing, wonderful, terrific, in whatever way that works for you! (And, yeah, I've written a lot of stories. I love writing as much as Caleb loves art!)

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