Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare recounts the true story of the James Johnson family who, in August of 1754, were taken by Indians from their home in New Hampshire. Captain Johnson, along with his wife, Susanna, and their children were forced marched north to Montreal and held for ransom. Along with them was a younger sister of Susanna’s, Miriam Willard. When Susanna was seventy years old, she wrote an account of this event, and this account was used by the author to create this story of Miriam’s adventures.
Although terrified by their ordeal, this family were lucky that they were kept alive. In later days of the French and Indian War, often prisoners were killed and scalped. These scalps were then purchased by the French. Before arriving at Montreal the family were separated, with Susanna, her new born baby and her young son being kept by the Indians. The father, Miriam and two younger girls went on to Montreal. The little girls were farmed out and taken into families, Miriam put to work as a maid for a wealthy family and Captain Johnson put in prison. How this family tried to reunite and return to America made for a very interesting story.
As this book is meant for the younger YA audience, I found it a bit simplified, but nevertheless, it’s a vivid account of how this war affected one family. A convincing historical fiction story that kept the pages turning. Elizabeth George Speare, is best known as the author of Newberry Medal winners, The Witch of Blackbird Pond and The Bronze Bow.
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