Caleb's Choice

Caleb's Choice

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by G. Clifton Wisler
     
 

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In 1858 Texas, people are violently divided over a law that makes it a crime to help runaway slaves. Caleb isn't sure how he feels. When an escaped slave saves his life, Caleb knows he has a debt to repay. But should he break the law and risk his life to help two slaves escape-Fast paced and filled with details that illuminate a less well-known escape route than

Overview

In 1858 Texas, people are violently divided over a law that makes it a crime to help runaway slaves. Caleb isn't sure how he feels. When an escaped slave saves his life, Caleb knows he has a debt to repay. But should he break the law and risk his life to help two slaves escape-Fast paced and filled with details that illuminate a less well-known escape route than the Underground Railroad.? — School Library JournalG. Clifton Wisler is the author of many books of historical fiction for young adults, including Mr. Lincoln's Drummer and Jericho's Journey (both Lodestar and Puffin). He lives in Plano, Texas.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
In his fourteenth year, Caleb has faced his share of upheaval. His father has gone to seek a new future; his mother's family, while taking them in, has treated him abominably. His only escape may be to his paternal grandmother. Living in Texas at a remote inn in 1858, Caleb finds himself smack in the middle of choosing sides as a result of the Fugitive Slave Law. When rescued from drowning by an escaped slave, Caleb is unsure whether to repay the debt by helping the slave to escape. He wrestles with breaking the law and risking his own life. Adolescent readers will enjoy this fast-paced book filled with humor, emotion, strong character development, and choice.
The ALAN Review - Sati Maharaj-Boggs
When fourteen-year-old Caleb Dulaney's family loses all their material possessions, he is shipped off to live with his paternal grandmother in North Texas until his father can earn enough money for the family to be together again. His uneventful arrival at his grandmother's small travelers' lodge provides no indication of the secrets he will uncover about his good-natured grandmother and his fiery cousin Edith, and no indication of the troubles ahead. Set in 1858, this fast-paced, easy-to-read novel proves that history can be intriguing and exciting. Wisler draws readers into this masterful, and often humorous, tale about the little-known underground railroad movement in Texas with the novel's opening sentence: "If it had not been for Aunt Alma's [broken] teacups and my cousin Pierre's [black] eye, I might never have come to Collin County at all" (p. 1). In Collin County, Caleb discovers that he can undertake adult responsibility when he defies the law and chooses to deliver two fugitive slaves to their freedom. This novel is skillfully and vividly written and could be a winner with junior-high and even high-school students. It would, therefore, be an excellent addition to any English or history class.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8When hard times hit Caleb's family in 1858, his father heads for Galveston to try to reestablish himself, and the boy and his mother go to live with his mother's wealthy Aunt Alma. His stay there is briefthe fallout from a cruel prank played on Caleb gets him sent to his paternal grandmother, who welcomes him with open arms. But things change forever when he is nearly killed in a flash flood before being rescued by a fugitive slave. By mistake, Caleb learns that his grandmother and his cousin are part of a network that helps runaways get to the free Kansan Territory, and Caleb must decide whether or not to help the two runaways who are now stranded between stations. The story is fast paced and filled with details that illuminate a less well-known escape route than the Underground Railroad. Unfortunately, some of the characters, especially the "bad guys," come across as little more than plot devices. Caleb, in contrast, is well drawn, with understandably ambiguous feelings toward slavery. His hesitation to help because it is against the law is balanced with his first inklings of what right and wrong really mean. The ending comes somewhat abruptly, but is surprising. All in all, this is a solid piece of historical fiction written in a pleasantly authentic-sounding first-person narrative that succeeds in being folksy without being hokey.Carrie Schadle, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
In the 1850s, Caleb finds himself at the home of his grandmother in north Texas after his father goes bankrupt. There his life is saved by a runaway slave; when he discovers that his cousin is helping other runaways, he must decide whether to help her or not. The first half of this novel is consumed by an absorbing depiction of life in Texas in the mid-19th century, including an extended section detailing Caleb's solo journey across the state. The plot concerning runaway slaves forms the second half of the novel; what makes this tale unique among others dealing with the Underground Railroad, aside from its Texas setting, is that Caleb is genuinely uncertain about what is right. He helps the runaways, but even in the end remains unclear about the moral ramifications of his actions. Instead of imposing a modern sensibility, Wisler (Mr. Lincoln's Drummer, 1995, etc.), refreshingly, creates a character that is true to his times.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140382563
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
05/28/1998
Series:
Puffin Novel Series
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
1,067,857
Product dimensions:
5.06(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

G. Clifton Wisler is the author of more than sixty-three books, many of them historical fiction for young adults. His ability to bring history alive in accessible and engaging ways make him a popular author for young readers.Mr. Wisler lives in Plano, Texas, where he continues to work on his doctoral dissertation on the history of the Ninth Texas Infantry Regiment in the Civil War.

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Caleb's Choice 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
InTheBookcase More than 1 year ago
This is my first book I've read, that is written by G. Clifton Wisler---and I'm impressed. The story is about a boy named Caleb, who lives during the Civil War. His family has to split up to survive their sudden money loss. Caleb is sent to his grandmother's farm, where he makes new friendships, strengthens his muscles from work, and he decides on an important decision to change his life. Caleb finds out about the Underground Railroad, slave traders, and auctioning blocks for black slaves. Being a white boy, who used to have the best, these new ideas in his head are completely different than what he's always thought. I would definitely like to read more books by this author in the future.