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Calico Girl

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  134 ratings  ·  37 reviews
“A poignant and hopeful glimpse at the past for todays curious readers.” —Rita Williams-Garcia, Newbery Honor author

From the award-winning author of Eliza s Freedom Road comes the powerful tale of a slave girls triumphant journey to freedom with her family during the Civil War.

Twelve-year-old Callie Wilcomb and her family are enslaved, and the Civil War gives them h
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published February 14th 2017 by Simon Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (first published 2017)
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Average rating 3.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  134 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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Jessica Brooks
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Calico Girl” by Jerdine Nolen is an amazing book for many obvious reasons.Let's travel back to 1861 in Virginia where Callie, a twelve year old girl, was a slave along side her family. What will happen when there is an opportunity to flee? Personally, I love the way the book Callie was so strong and independent. Another thing I love about this book is how this book was based on true accounts of the civil war. Although it is very sad how slaves were treated, I think basing it on true accounts wa ...more
Ms. Yingling
Jan 01, 2017 rated it liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Callie's father Hampton is the son of a plantation owner and a slave, so while her father is free, the rest of her family occupies a tenuous place in society in 1861. Hampton's sister, Catherine, is now in charge of the family's land and possessions, and is being told to sell slaves further into the south so that the money can be used for the war effort as well as to feed her own family. Callie's half brothers are to be sold, but Hampton manages to get them
Having grown up in Virginia I was very interested in this story about Fort Monroe and how at one point, this Union fort was a haven for runaway slaves and freeman. I had never learned about this in school. While I enjoyed the history that I learned from this book, the actual story seemed flat and the character too one dimensional. Felt like I was reading journal entries rather then a story. The factual part was interesting but the story itself disappointing.
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Twelve-year-old Callie Wilcomb is a slave. Freedom is in sight when she turns a certain age because her Papa is the (half) brother of their Mistress. Papa is free but Callie's mother, who died in childbirth, was a slave, as is Callie's stepmother Mama Ruth, Mama Ruth's son Joseph and Callie's brother Little Charlie. The Mistress has to legally free Callie but not the rest of the family. They belong to Master Henry, who is mean and selfish. When Callie's stepbrother Joseph is sold to pay the Mast ...more
Kayden North
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've always had an interest in Civil War era literature, and Calico Girl is a lovely tale of a young girl living during an important time in the war's history and provides context for the initiation of the Contraband Law. This book will be good for students in grades 3-6 learning about the Civil War, as it follows the story of a girl roughly their age who was born a slave and eventually finds freedom with her family. This could easily be used for a book club or whole group read-aloud for a unit ...more
Molly Dettmann
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 While Callie and her family's story was a harrowing, but hopeful one, this book fell flat for me. Over half of the book kept explaining family lineage and then the last little bit was about them joining the north and full freedom. The dialogue was dry and though it is a short read, it felt long. ...more
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
The setting and story line had the potential to be a good book, but the plot was not developed. The dialogue felt flat and the characters did not feel real. I gave the book two stars because the historical aspect was interesting.
Ashley Hill
Feb 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Calico Girl By: Jerdine Nolen
Grade Recommendation: SIlent reading- 6th-7th Read aloud- 5th grade

Plot Summary: First we are introduced to the main character Callie, a slave from Virginia during the Civil war in 1861. Callie tells about her father and the rest of her “slave family” as the story begins. News of the upcoming war has now spread throughout the country and slave owners began to sell slaves in order to raise money for it. Sadly Callie’s half brother Joseph is sold by her mistress husb
I struggled, struggled, struggled over this rating. The story of the enslaved people who essentially freed themselves by becoming "contraband" at Fort Monroe during the Civil War is SO important for people, especially children, especially Virginians, to know. And what we teach children about slavery glosses over the horrors of that institution, so much so that I believe that my own generation and the two after it really minimize the deleterious effects of slavery on our society today, an ignoran ...more
Lauren Blanton
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wow-books
“Calico girl” written by Jerdine Nolen is a WOW, historical fiction chapter book that depicts a family’s effort towards freedom. Callie Wilcomb, 12 years old, and her family were slaves in Virginia; it was the year 1861. Callie and her family went on a journey towards freedom, and Callie learned her passions and values in life. This is an inspiring story that highlights the disparities and challenges Callie and her family faced. This book would be best for grades 4-6, because it discusses topics ...more
Kristen Holland Shear
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I picked this up for my kids on the recommendation of a middle school teacher whom I adore and ended up devouring it myself. This book made me laugh, cry, scream, shudder. It's a stark and important glimpse at life at the turn of the Civil War for blacks.

Calico Girl should be an essential read for middle school-aged kids, particularly today, when racial tensions are so high.

I appreciate that the book opens with historical background notes about the Civil War, slavery, seceding, etc. These are
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Nolen, Jerdine Calico Girl. 192 pages. Paula Wiseman (Simon & Schuster), 2017. $16.99. Content: Language: G (0 swears) Mature Content: PG Violence: G.

It is 1861 and twelve-year-old Callie lives with her family on a plantation in Virginia. Her father, Hampton is a free man, but he stays on the plantation with the rest of his family who are not. Although the Civil War has begun, Virginia ratifies their vote to secede from the Union and no longer adheres to the laws of the United States. Callie and
Great historical book, with great sentiments and a slow, yet, heartful plot.

This book is set in the 1800's at the onset of the civil war. Twelve-year-old, Callista, who is called Callie lives with her stepmother, dad, and her brothers at Belle Hill farm. Callie is a free slave just as her father, though on the farm they both are treated just like slaves. Callie has to constantly run after Suse and has to put up with whatever Suse says orders.

When Callie sees her family get an opportunity to go
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Callista (Callie) Wilcomb lived on the Warren Plantation the year of 1861. Her father Hampton was a freed man according to the marriage agreement that his half sister Catherine and her husband Henry Warren (the owner of the plantation) made. Callie would be a freed woman later in life because she is Hampton's heir. Callie's mother died shortly after giving birth to her. Hampton re-married to a woman named Mama Ruth. Mama Ruth already had a son by the name of Joseph. Later Mama Ruth and Hampton h ...more
Mary Louise Sanchez
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 4th-finished
This is an essential read for any 5/6 historical fiction unit. The author takes many pains to ground the story in facts that the reader will understand. The book opens with historical background notes, rather than hiding them at the end. This is such a smart decision. The civil war, slavery, and seceding are big ideas that get time on the pages, this grounding the setting and the stakes.

Probably coming in around a Guided Reading level X, the book tells one story with a mostly linear structure w
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-lit
Confession - it has been many, many years since I have studied or read about the Civil War. With that in mind, dates and how it all went down were all muddled together in my brain.

I loved that this books begins with a timeline! I found the timeline helped to place this historical fiction into a real historical context. I also found that my tangled mess of memories began to unwind prior to reading and it made the story much more meaningful.

This is a powerful story written by Nolen, as she approa
Addison Children's Services
It is 1861 in Virginia and the Civil War has begun. For her entire life, Callie Wilcomb has been a slave on Mister Henry's plantation, expected to serve and obey his daughter Suse. But Callie's father is a free man, and he is determined the rest of his family will be free as well. At Fort Monroe (controlled by the Union Army), Callie's father finds out slaves will be offered a safe place to stay, as long as they can make it there. Callie and her family travel to Fort Monroe, and Callie experienc ...more
May 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this one, I really did. It hits a part of history that is lesser-known. At the onset of the Civil War, there was a small window of opportunity for slaves. Fort Monroe in Virginia offered refuge for slaves and did not return them to bounty hunters and slave owners because they were considered contraband of war, and the states that had seceded were now a foreign country. Callie’s family is given the chance to start over and live freely within the fort. While the premise was intere ...more
Marilyn Showalter
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Historical Fiction
4th-6th+ grade reading level
This book gives a great perspective on what it was like to be a slave during the American Civil War. The author portrays a young-girl who the reader will empathize with as she encounters sadness and struggles. However, this book gives a hope of freedom as her and her family take shelter at a Union fort. This would be great for students to read as they are studying the Civil War. It gives a good perspective of the differences between the North and the
Oct 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
I found this book to be very disappointing. At no point did it hook me as a reader. The dialog was unrealistic and I didn't care about the characters, and kept waiting for the plot to pick up. There were also editing errors: one sentence that didn't make sense, a character's name misspelled, and in a review on the back the main character's name was wrong (Callie is short for Callista, not Calico). I do not recommend. ...more
Miss Amanda

1861, Virginia. 12 year old Callie and her family along with other slaves leave the plantation when they hear that Fort Monroe, under Union control, has declared escaped slaves to be "contraband" and will not return slaves that arrive at the fort to their slave masters.

Inspired by true events.
Lanora TM
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-school, 2017
Nolen did a great job with her research and sharing it on a level for children; however, some of the conversations between characters felt a little too forced and a little too smooth. Conflict was mostly brought up in chapter blurbs; however, I appreciate the time map and explanations to help guide readers.
Jill Cd
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
I just couldn't get into this book although historical fic is one of my favorite genres. The characters were flat and the story too rushed for me. ...more
Melissa E
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fairly easy read set in the Civil War....interesting juxtaposition to From the Shadows of Liberty (NF book). We are told the story of a young girl enslaved in the South and her journey to freedom.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Book started strong, but it faded in the second half. Don't think my 9 year old will enjoy. ...more
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Solid middle grade historical fiction, it definitely appealed due to the setting being so close to home!
Sara Cook
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the story of this family's escape from slavery. ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
The premise was fascinating but the writing was slow and kept me at arm's length the whole time. I never felt invested in the characters or the story. Disappointing. ...more
May 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the story in general, but I found the plot line a little weak and the story was kind of short.
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