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Calico Captive [Hardcover]

By Elizabeth George Speare & W. T. Mars (Illustrator)
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Item description for Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare & W. T. Mars...

During the French and Indian War, young Miriam Willard is captured by Indians and taken to Montreal.

Publishers Description
In the year 1754, the stillness of Charlestown, New Hampshire, is shattered by the terrifying cries of an Indian raid. Young Miriam Willard, on a day that had promised new happiness, finds herself instead a captive on a forest trail, caught up in the ebb and flow of the French and Indian War.
It is a harrowing march north. Miriam can only force herself to the next stopping place, the next small portion of food, the next icy stream to be crossed. At the end of the trail waits a life of hard work and, perhaps, even a life of slavery. Mingled with her thoughts of Phineas Whitney, her sweetheart on his way to Harvard, is the crying of her sister's baby, Captive, born on the trail.
Miriam and her companions finally reach Montreal, a city of shifting loyalties filled with the intrigue of war, and here, by a sudden twist of fortune, Miriam meets the prominent Du Quesne family, who introduce her to a life she has never imagined. Based on an actual narrative diary published in 1807, Calico Captive skillfully reenacts an absorbing facet of history.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Pages   274
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2001
Publisher   Houghton Mifflin
ISBN  0618150757  
ISBN13  9780618150755  

Availability  0 units.

More About Elizabeth George Speare & W. T. Mars

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Elizabeth George Speare is widely known and admired by readers of all ages for her outstanding historical novels. She received the Newbery Medal for both The Witch of Blackbird Pond and The Bronze Bow. Her book The Sign of the Beaver was a Newbery Honor award-winner and is available on audio from Listening Library.

Elizabeth George Speare was born in 1938.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Children > Ages 9-12 > General
2Books > Subjects > Children > History & Historical Fiction > Canada
3Books > Subjects > Children > History & Historical Fiction > United States > Fiction > Colonial
4Books > Subjects > Children > People & Places > Multicultural Stories > Native People (Canada)
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > Homeschooling > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Education (K-12) > General Education > General
Books > Education (K-12) > General Education > Readers

Homeschool Catalog Product Categories
Books > Homeschool > Reading & Character Building > Historical Fiction

Reviews - What do customers think about Calico Captive?

Very Good  Apr 28, 2007
It is very interesting to look at Miriam's character in this story. It is a little hard to sympathize with her at the beginning, because she is so self centered. She doesn't seem to care for much past herself. But that changes as the story progresses, and she becomes caring and giving to others. As she does, she begins to find an inner peace that had eluded her for most of the story.
I also like how everything in this story is so accurately portrayed. I have read how some readers have been shocked how Indians are referred to as "savages," and "redskins." The author was merely trying to portray how many of the settlers saw them. Besides, in the story, Miriam is corrected by one of the characters, who tries to show her the Indians in a different light. I also like how the French are shown, a little frivolous, with a great love for the material things, but kindhearted as well (most of them).
All in all, this book is quite good, with many twists and turns, though I found it a tiny bit slow at times.
Calico Captive is a Pretty Good Book  Feb 27, 2007
This is a beautiful story of a girl who was a captive to both the Indians and the French. Some parts of this book I did not like because of the way they called Indians "Redskins", although they might have called them that. After I got into it, it was a lot more interesting. The writing style was good, because it had different points of view, and it is historically accurate. I couldn't put it down. The book is an epic tale of a young girl who learns to adapt to her surroundings. I loved this book from beginning to end. I enjoyed reading it very much.
A modern re-writing of captivity narrative and young adult classic: Calico Captive  Jan 3, 2007
Calico Captive is Elizabeth George Sprears (1908-1994) first novel. It was inspired by the diary of Susanna Willard Johnson, abducted by the Abenaki Indians in 1754 (during the French and Indian War) from her house in Fort Number 4 in Charleston, New Hampshire, published for the first time in 1796 and then 1807 (and presently available online at Susanna Johnson was made captive with all her family, including a 14 year old sister, turned into the sixteen year old Miriam in the book, conducted to the Indian settlement of St. Francis and then sold to the French in Montreal, where she remained for three years before being set free after the payment of ransom. It took some years still before the whole family could be reunited.

Captivity narratives evolved into a kind of literary genre during the early years of American literature. These diaries, mostly by women, were always written at distance from the event of the abduction and share in their originality many stereotyped situations. These memories have been identified by modern critics as vehicles for a subjective rather than objective truth, as a means of political propaganda and as a form of sensational literature such as the "slave narratives". Post-modern and cultural analysis have re-evaluated them as examples of gender and culture conflicts and pointed out the principal elements of the genre: what a proper woman should do in a desperate situation and the religious message of sticking to Faith in times of adversity. Not rarely, however, the captives depict their captors as individuals and somehow opened themselves to these foreign (Indian or French) cultures. Susanna Johnson's diary is one of those in which the captors, be they Indian or French, are shown in all their humanity and this old document, even if difficult to read, retains a charm of its own.

This long introduction is to explain the importance, the originality and the enduring success of "Calico captive". This novel, more often than not classified as children or adolescent literature makes a great read also for adults. Elizabeth George Spear describing Susanna's little sister Miriam introduces into this real adventure a fictionalized and modern young girl, that with her thoughts and actions allows the reader to identify with the history, the characters and the literary genre.

Miriam is sixteen, just starting to get interested in a young Harvard bound Phineas Whitney, when she is ripped away from her home. During her march through the woods, she keeps blaming her family for their capture and she thinks with longing and rage of her new blue dress. These small things seem more important than the plight the family is withstanding. But how true, that a sixteen year old girl would think of it this way! Once in the Indian settlement she tries to get along with her masters and decides to learn sewing and embroidery and tries to make the best of her situation. But when she is brought to Montreal, the contact with the long despised French, completely upsets her beliefs and standards. The people she meets are sincere and sympathetic, all the world revolving around her is interesting and her mind opens to the acceptance of another culture (European) and another religion (Roman Catholicism). She realizes the enemy is not so different from us and she integrates so well, to be asked to be part of that world. The temptation is strong but inside her mind her steadfastness, modelled on that of her sister Susanna, consents her to take the right decision.

One of the most interesting aspects of Miriam's outlook is the acceptance of what she has to learn from her captors: the embroidery from the Indians, the fashion and gaiety from the French, and at the same time the understanding of the relations of the other members of her family (Sylvanus the little boy that loves to run wild with the Indians, the little Susanna that loves to be pampered by her adoptive French aunts, her older sister Susanna that has so many prejudices against the French).

A great deal of historical research is evident in the book's preparation and the Authors descriptive capacities consent a complete identification with the characters and the situations. Old Montreal is there before our eyes, as are the dresses of the Frenchwomen and the sparkling ballrooms, but we can also feel the cold, the hunger and the discomfort of life among the woods.

This novel has a double value. In the first place it is a beautiful story to read and enjoy and at the same time an occasion for learning what life was like during the French and Indian War, but in the second place it is a modern version of captivity narrative that allows the reader to appreciate this genre of literature so popular many years ago.

A small personal P.S.: I read this book borrowing it from the Library when I was nine years old (1966) and I enjoyed very much. After so many years, I found it a bookshop in Boston this summer and I bought it with enormous joy. I took it back to Italy, where I now live, and read it with all the enthusiasm of when I was nine. Naturally, I now understand more things than I did then and the Net helps us out in gaining more information on the topic, but the joy of reading the book I assure you was just the same! [...]
An adolecent's journey  Jun 17, 2006
Having read in various books of the French and Indian war of Susanah Johnson's captivity and ordeal, I came across this fictionalized account set through the eyes of her sister, Miriam. Being curious, I purchased it.

This is the life developing story of a teenage girl and in that it is a good story. Taking the character from her abduction by savages near fort Number Four (whose attrocities are well documented) to her captivity (something not so well documented)in the native settlement of St. Franceis to her being deliverered to Montreal (she had been sold though no details are shown) in New France to her eventual repatriation.

Based on a true story narrated by the heroine's sister Susanna Johnson in 1807, and containing numerous historical innacuracies and clearly some early Politically correct biases of the auttor,this will be interesting reading to a teenager as well as an adult. Though due to lack of availablility, I do not fault the author's numerous historical and cultural inaccuracies in her story, I must confess I do not care for the author portraying the character as narrow minded in comparison to the Abanakis whose label of Savages is well deserved and their attrocities are well documented or of the Catholic French who were hardly the most tolerant of people as French Huegenots in France and many English protestant captives discovered after being sold to them by the natives. Indeed though there is much reported of english captives being purchased from the natives by their French patrons not much is out on the details.
Certainly the proto-political correctness could have been done without.

Otherwise it is a good story as far as story telling goes.

I feel, with proper research to correct its flaws, it would make a nice tv movie for kids.
A Captivating story!  Oct 3, 2005
This Historical Fiction Novel is great!! It helped me understand more about the time era. After the first few pages, I got really into the book. It made me feel as if I really were the main character, and going through her struggles. This book expresses the characters really well, and is fun to read!!

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