by Mike Peterson - illustrated by Christopher Baldwin (color/b&w)
Freehand is set in Northern New York during the War of 1812
Caleb MacCrimmons loves to draw, but he keeps his sketchbook hidden in the straw of the barn. Whenever his stepfather sees him drawing, he punishes him severely for not concentrating on his chores. It doesn’t help that his stepbrother, Alex, is content to pretend to work and let Caleb look bad.
When a group of soldiers pass by the trading post, retreating from the defeat in Ogdensburg en route to the military base at Sackets Harbor, they offer Caleb the chance to escape his abusive homelife and join the adventure of the war, though Alex tags along at the last minute. Caleb’s ability to draw quick, accurate sketches attracts General Jacob Brown's attention, because good mapmakers are valuable to the army.
Later, when their friends in the regular army join General Zebulon Pike’s assault on the Niagara, Caleb and Alex must stay behind with Gen. Brown’s militia and work to foil the British attempt on Sackets Harbor.
From his experience in battle, and from General Brown -- who was once a school teacher and a surveyor -- Caleb learns the value of channeling his talent and courage in positive directions, and builds a career for himself in peacetime America.
*(This shorter serial is priced at two-thirds our standard price)