Gold Fever: Tales of the California Gold Rush

Gold Fever: Tales of the California Gold Rush

by Rosalyn Schanzer, Schanzer
Using eyewitness accounts from the real men, women, and children of the gold rush, this absorbing picture book combines the words of the gold seekers and vibrant folk-art style paintings to make a memorable introduction to one of the most colorful chapters in American history.


Using eyewitness accounts from the real men, women, and children of the gold rush, this absorbing picture book combines the words of the gold seekers and vibrant folk-art style paintings to make a memorable introduction to one of the most colorful chapters in American history.

Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Childrens Books
Schanzer culls primary sources for brief observations by a broad spectrum of participants in the Gold Rush and arranges them in admirable order to recreate a cogent account of the raucous event...Independent readers who enjoyed Stephen Krensky's Striking It Rich will want to hear the tale again, "straight from the horse's mouth."
San Francisco Chronicle
The whole population are going crazy," a man wrote home from California. "Old as well "Gold is measured here by the bushels and shovelful," wrote another. History comes alive in the voices of those who lived it, as these letters from rugged 49ers show. There's an unfiltered candor in such firsthand accounts - .Rosalyn Schanzer uses them to tell her story in Gold Fever: Tales from the California Gold Rush, the strongest of several picture books published this year to mark the sesquicentennial of the Gold Rush.Gold Fever is amazingly comprehensive for a book of blurbs and drawings. Every page is filled with multiple cartoonlike illustrations that correspond to the thrills and frustrations expressed in visually evocative letter excerpts. This is a far cry from the bleached histories children used to read. And it's fun to boot, packed with amusing anecdotes as well as hard facts.History at its most entertaining.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Plying the same visually jam-packed format she used to great advantage in How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark, Schanzer here turns from the lucid narrative provided by Lewis's diary to a more atmospheric account of the California Gold Rush. She begins with the January 1848 discovery of gold at Sutter's mill and--in comic book-style panels accompanied by snippets from actual diaries, letters and newspaper accounts--follows the topsy-turvy routes by land and sea to the hustle and bustle of the West Coast boomtowns. Employing such first-hand quotes as "I hate to desert. I am almost crazy, as I have the gold fever shocking bad" from a California soldier's letter to his brother in Boston, Schanzer vivifies the past and weaves her information together thematically (old-fashioned handbill style typeface announces such subjects as "Off to the Diggings" and "Night Life"). This overview, with its brief, digestible chunks, will likely tempt the appetites of budding historians, and the visual structure keeps the pace brisk. An author's note at the end puts into context the engaging historical anecdotes. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Here's another new take on Forty-Niners frenzy. Schanzer has collected quotes from first-person accounts of the gold rush. She displays them chronologically, from the first discovery, through the journeys, and finally to the disillusionment as few find riches. Schanzer's choices are entertaining, as are her acrylic on rough canvas artwork. The texture of the canvas adds a nice period feeling to the effort.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-As she did in How We Crossed the West (National Geographic, 1998), Schanzer inventively combines first-person accounts with lively artwork to bring history to life. Her amusing folk-art illustrations, drawn with acrylic paints on rough canvas, match the spirit of the times, showing a variety of emotions through simple and appealing figures. She depicts the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill, details the various routes travelers used to get to California, and describes the triumphs and disappointments of the prospectors. Paintings full of color and motion show the rocky roads of the overland trails, the excitement of the digging sites, and the liveliness of San Francisco. All of the accompanying text comes directly from historical sources, including letters, newspapers, and journals, and is presented in blocks of text and dialogue balloons. By deftly arranging the dozens of quotes and carefully laying out the illustrations, the author presents a smooth and easy-to-follow narrative. Some of the tidbits are humorous while others are more serious. Many, such as the description of blankets "well filled with athletic and courageous and determined fleas," are both interesting and illuminating, conveying the day-to-day concerns of the people involved. Other books can fill in the facts and figures related to the gold rush, but Gold Fever! makes a uniquely exciting introduction to a fascinating period.-Steven Engelfried, West Linn Public Library, OR
Kirkus Reviews
What lure could cause thousands of people to quit their jobs, leave their families, sleep in tents, move to the wilderness, and eat wormy bread? This is a detailed, exciting accountÊof how the discovery of gold in the streams of California in 1848 created an international frenzy to head to the American West. Schanzer (How We Crossed the West, 1997) uses direct quotes from journals, letters, and accounts written by the forty-niners themselves, giving her book an immediacy and drama others on the subject lack. She chronicles the influx of people lured by tales of wealth as they traveled across the US. The quotations create a colorful picture of the pan-handling life: what miners ate and wore, how they lived, played, struggled to survive, and how many of the people who truly profited from the gold rush were those who sold goods to the miners. Schanzer's illustrations are dynamic, and as well-researched as the text. (map) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Product Details

National Geographic Society
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.88(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

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