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Calico Captive

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,995 Ratings  ·  269 Reviews
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
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 29th 2001 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1957)
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The Book Thief by Markus ZusakA Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba BrayNumber the Stars by Lois LowryThe Luxe by Anna GodbersenThe Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Teen Historical Fiction
107th out of 1,002 books — 2,456 voters
Indian Captive by Lois LenskiFollow the River by James Alexander ThomThe Ransom of Mercy Carter by Caroline B. CooneyCalico Captive by Elizabeth George SpeareThe Beaded Moccasins by Lynda Durrant
American Indian Captivity Fiction
4th out of 83 books — 33 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Elizabeth George Speare is best known as the author of The Witch of Blackbird Pond, winner of the 1959 Newbury medal and a long-time favorite comfort read of mine, but I've never read any of her other books. But a few weeks ago one of my friends, Carol Storm, strongly recommended Calico Captive in her GR review, so I decided to grab it at the library and give it a read.

Calico Captive is a fictionalized version of a few years in the life of Miriam Willard, a teenage girl who is kidnapped from he
Lars Guthrie
Aug 10, 2010 Lars Guthrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's a good reason why 'Sign of the Beaver' and 'The Witch of Blackbird Pond' are so frequently assigned (over-assigned) in elementary school. Historical fiction is a staple of language arts classes. Elizabeth George Speare is at the top of the field. Besides teachers finding merit in the two books, kids go for them.

Which makes it all the more shameful that Speare's two other novels (in print, anyway) are virtually ignored.

I read 'The Bronze Bow' a few years ago, and thought it was unbelieva
Deborah Markus
Welcome to another episode of Deborah's Library Book Is Overdue! Today's special guest is a YA novel by Elizabeth George Speare, author of the modern classic The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Although Deborah read this book in a couple of hours and her library now allows her to renew books twice provided no one has placed a hold on the title, she still managed to put off reviewing it long enough to rack up some minor but humiliating fees.

Deborah also deserves some public mocking for the fact that, w
Sep 15, 2007 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Problematic portrayal of American Indians, though it seems quite in keeping with the real feelings of the captives--based on the historical narrative--for what that's worth. I read this over and over as a child, especially savoring the descriptions of life in Montreal--the dishes, the furniture, the food, the hot chocolate, and especially the clothes. I really didn't understand, at age 10, why (SPOILER) Miriam wouldn't want to marry Pierre and stay at home in a fine Montreal mansion while he exp ...more
Jan 23, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pre-2007
Such a romantic book! I first read it in Junior High, and I liked it as well the second time I read it twenty years later! For those of you who love historical, romantic fiction that's wholesome - it doesn't get much better.
Carol Storm
Jun 12, 2015 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing
This Fifties classic is one of the greatest YA novels ever written -- in some ways it's even better than THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND!

Elizabeth George Speare had a very special gift. She was able to create teen heroines who were strong, self-reliant, and independent -- but always with a soft spot for a cute boy. She was able to use all of the danger and intrigue of the past -- witch trials in Puritan New England, terrifying Indian raids on the frontier -- as a backdrop for the heroine's romantic
Calico Captive is the fictionalized version of A Narrative Of The Captivity Of Mrs. Johnson told from the perspective of Susannah Johnson’s younger (by ten years) sister, Miriam. As would be expected with any captivity story, it’s fascinating, fast-paced and hard to put down. The author does an excellent job of portraying a young woman confronting the competing dangers of trying to stay alive, keep family together and maintain cherishes values amidst the perplexities of multi-cultures, (English, ...more
Oct 18, 2007 Krystal rated it liked it
Shelves: childhoodstories
Loved this book. Its written for the younger crowd and based on a true story of a family captured by Native Americans and sold into slavery to the British. Before I read this book, I didn't have a clue that this was apart of the history. It's incredible, the lack of my knowledge, I know.

A family of white settlers survives the Indians capture, sold into British slavery, half are thrown in the stockades, and then their journey home. It held my attention several reads through, and its one I'll rec
Jan 14, 2016 Lizzie rated it liked it
Actual rating: 3.5/5 stars

I was thrilled to be reading this book, having recently read and adored Elizabeth’s other novel, ‘The Witch of Blackbird Pond’. I didn’t like the story in this novel as much as I did in the other one, although I still enjoyed it and rated it 3.5/5 stars. The writing was wonderful, it was well paced, I just didn’t find the story all that interesting.
This novel featured many wonderful characters and messages, such as faith, hope, and sacrifice.
I loved our main character
Michelle Young
Sep 01, 2007 Michelle Young rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children, history
I read this in fifth or sixth grade, and loved it. I appreciate fiesty heroines, of course, but my favorite parts where when the French suitor buys Miriam a cup of real hot chocolate, and when the French governor's wife offers her a luxurious bolt of fabric and she gives it to her good friend Hortense. Oh! I love this book. Where is my copy? Gotta read it again...
Dec 19, 2009 Annette rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
This is the beautifully written first novel of Elizabeth George Speare. Although I enjoyed all of her other books, this one is my favorite. I am completely baffled as to why this is the only book by Ms. Speare that did not win a Newbery award.

I love all of the characters! I love the high-spirited, red-haired main character, Miriam Willard, as well as her delightful, and good natured, best friend, Hortense. I couldn't help but admire her sister, Susanna's quiet, steady strength as she endured on
This was just as good as I remembered! There is just the right mix of adventure, suspense, romance, friendship, and character growth . . . and ball gowns and hot chocolate. Plus, there are plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting. I think this would make a great movie, if done right. My favorite parts of the book are once they get to Montreal (thankfully, that's the majority of the book). I just love how the city at this period is brought to life. Elizabeth George Speare is a master ...more
Calico Captive is one of my favorite books from childhood; I picked it up in the library when I was 9 or 10 and consistently returned to it over time.

The story is set during the French and Indian Wars before the American Revolution; the main character, Miriam, lives with her sister, Susannah and her husband and several small children. They are taken captive by Indians, then eventually traded to the French to live in Montreal, where they serve as domestic staff to a wealthy family.

Miriam's story
Melinda Ross
Mar 18, 2015 Melinda Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is based on a true story of a family living in Connecticut during the French and Indian war. The family is kidnapped by Indians who had sided with the French. They are forced to march north and then are at periodic times turned over to the French. The family is scattered and must work hard to try to find their way back to each other. The original book was written by the older sister--Susanna years after the ordeal (and was actually made into a made for TV movie years ago). Speare takes ...more
Kathy Via
Apr 02, 2016 Kathy Via rated it it was amazing
I am reading books with my 10 year old granddaughter to encourage her to read and to keep in touch with her, giving us something to discuss. The books she is reading are very interesting and historical but with a personal touch as you follow one young girl through life in New England, capture by Indians, sold to the French in Montreal and the hardships she and her family face. I was surprised, but I really liked this book.
Lily Sacharow
Nov 02, 2007 Lily Sacharow rated it really liked it
Shelves: advisory-books
This is one of my favorite novels from my elementary school days when I was infatuated with Native Americans and their customs. The novel is based upon the story of Susanna Johnson (although the story is centered around her younger sister, Miriam) a captive of the Abenakis Indians. Along with her family, Miriam is taken away from home and traded from the Indian society into an elite French community. I picked this one up again because I recall how taken by it I was when I first read it; though i ...more
Lissa Chandler
I wish I had read this book as a fifth or sixth grader, because it would have been my favorite (just like The Witch of Blackbird Pond). I loved how feisty the heroine is, even when she gets wrapped up in wanting to be glamorous, and I really didn't expect the ending, but it was definitely believable. Also, because I am super nerdy, I went from liking it to loving it when I found out it was based on a true story.
Jun 12, 2010 AlixJamie rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth George Speare is one of my favorite girlhood authors. Every book I've read by her has been excellent. I loved the romance and adventure this book held and also the strong themes of marital love, friendship, and family ties. Ms. Speare is an excellent writer! Highly recommended!
Grace Sun
Jun 22, 2007 Grace Sun rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like historical fiction
This book was pretty good. I generally like EGS books. It is about colonial America as well as about France and Native Americans. It has action and a trace of romance
Emily Ellsworth
Calico Captive was Elizabeth George Speare's first novel. Another one you might recognize of hers was "The Witch of Blackbird Pond." Calico Captive was inspired by the journals of Susanna Willard Johnson, who was captured by Indians in 1754 (during the French and Indian War). Susanna was captured, along with all her family, including a 14-year-old sister that became Miriam in the story. The book details their capture, and captivity in the indian settlement St. Francis. They were later sold to th ...more
Sep 03, 2010 Angie rated it really liked it
All right. We're stretching back a ways this time around and featuring a book written by a very well-known author but oft overlooked in favor of its famous big sib. I know there are plenty of you The Witch of Blackbird Pond fans out there. I am one of you. How could you not love wonderful, brash Kit Tyler? And Hannah and Nat and Mercy? I loved it back when I was a little girl and my mom read it to me and I love it now when I re-read it for myself. In fact, after I finished it the first time, I i ...more
Apr 15, 2015 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Loved this book so much when a little girl and during my teen years. Good historical romance for younger ages. Pierre is a lot of fun, and the setting of colonial Montreal very interesting. Also glad that she ends up with Phineas in the end, although their romance feels imaginary since we only meet him one time etc. Pierre isn't the marrying type. ;) The part where she works for the pretty French girl is the best. Just wish there had been more detail involving the Native American characters.
Feb 04, 2016 Nicole rated it really liked it
A good historical fiction book with a touch of romance.

I found the characters a bit hard to relate to though....

This story is based on the true story of a girl and her sisters family settled in the New World. It follows them as they get attacked and captured by Indians and then taken to Quebec, Canada. It has a good story line and I like that the characters are resourceful but I find them very hard to relate to. The main character has an intense hatred for the Indians, which, though I know it i
Dec 01, 2009 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There were two books I read in sixth grade that impacted me enough to remember I loved them 17 years later. This was one of the two. The storytelling, the characters, the description of crossing rivers and the living conditions were captivating. I appreciate the story now more than I did years ago. The struggle the characters dealt with as their long-held prejudices were altered by circumstances far out of their control was captivating. I was so drawn into the story that I was reading it in a do ...more
Apr 05, 2013 Savanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, 19-50
Summary: This book is a historical fiction novel about a girl named Miriam. Miriam and her sister’s family are kidnapped by Indians and split up. One of the boys is taken in by the Indians, the sister is kept as a slave in an Indian camp, Miriam is sold to a French family in Canada, both of the little girls are taken into different families, the brother-in-law is sent to get the ransom to free the family. This is the story of Miriam in this difficult time and how her family is reunited.

I liked
Laura Verret
Oct 24, 2011 Laura Verret rated it liked it
A very interesting book, really. Miriam Willard, the Calico Captive, is kidnapped along with the rest of her family by hostile Indians. After a hazardous journey and a close shave at an Indian camp, Miriam and her family are sold as slaves to a French settlement in Canada. While Miriam's brother is trying to arrange for their ransom, the French and Indian War breaks out complicating matters and throwing Miriam and James' wife Susanna on their own abilities. Will Miriam and her family ever escape ...more
Aug 28, 2015 Bt rated it really liked it
Recommended to Bt by: "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" is one of my favorite books
I liked this book all the way through until the end, which was really not how I wanted it to be. Actually, this book reminds me a lot of the movie Pocahontas. Same time period, conflicts with Indians, plucky heroine, enemies aren't as bad as they seem, girl meets roguish foreigner, strict family vs. assimilation, based on a true story... AND just like Pocahontas, (view spoiler) ...more
Sep 23, 2015 Rachel rated it it was amazing
I love this book!! It's been sitting on my shelf for over 10 years, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. A new favorite of mine. I felt like I was in the 18th century! It turned out differently than expected - didn't spend much time with the Indians - but it was very good. :D It makes me want to read up on history again.

This was a favorite quote of mine from the book. This is somewhat of a spoiler - so don't read on if you don't want to know. Also some more thoughts and about two thi
Jan 16, 2014 Kim rated it liked it
I have read Speare's other novels, so I thought I'd probably like this one as well and I did. I thought it could use a little more introduction to the characters in the beginning before they're taken captive. Especially the relationship between Miriam and Phineas. Because there was so little about him throughout the book, it was a hard to believe Miriam would still have feelings for him after so much time had passed and after she had met Pierre. But it's still a good historical fiction.
Jan 27, 2010 Rusticgirl rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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I was born in Melrose, Massachusetts, on November 21, 1908. I have lived all my life in New England, and though I love to travel I can't imagine ever calling any other place on earth home. Since I can't remember a time when I didn't intend to write, it is hard to explain why I took so long getting around to it in earnest. But the years seemed to go by very quickly. In 1936 I married Alden Speare a ...more
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“I have no word of yours to assure me that our brief friendship held for you the same significance it held for me, but I must go on believing so. Every hope of the future is meaningless unless I have faith that you and I will share it together.” 21 likes
“...of the few young men and boys at the fort, now that she was too old for racing and climbing trees with them, she felt both shy and critical...” 2 likes
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