Gold Fever

Overview

Jasper is off to California with dreams of gold that will fill his pans to overflowing. He has his shovel, his pick, and lots of energy-but finding gold isn't easy. Maybe farming wasn't so bad. . . . Punchy, rhythmic verse and wonderfully detailed illustrations depict the hopes, dreams, and realities of the settlers of the California Gold Rush of 1849 and bring this vibrant period in American history to life.

In this brief rhyming story set during the gold rush, ...

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Overview

Jasper is off to California with dreams of gold that will fill his pans to overflowing. He has his shovel, his pick, and lots of energy-but finding gold isn't easy. Maybe farming wasn't so bad. . . . Punchy, rhythmic verse and wonderfully detailed illustrations depict the hopes, dreams, and realities of the settlers of the California Gold Rush of 1849 and bring this vibrant period in American history to life.

In this brief rhyming story set during the gold rush, Jasper leaves his family and farm to pursue his dream of finding gold.

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Editorial Reviews

Horn Book Magazine
An oft-told tale gets a fresh and funny spin in this picture book by a new writer and an experienced illustrator. Kay uses bits of terse verse to follow the westward trek of young Jasper, who leaves family and farmhouse behind to follow his dreams of gold. The journey quickly loses its luster: "Prairie-dust storm, / River, rocks. / Desert, sagebrush,/Holes in socks." Schindler's colored-pencil drawings on rough textured paper aptly convey the rugged scenery of the journey and later the gritty enterprise of digging and sluicing for gold. Dusty color tones, comic expressions on humans and animals, and well-chosen detail amplify the spare narrative in double-page spreads. Smaller facing scenes framed by wide margins occasionally vary the pattern. Jasper's journey ends in futility, but only after readers have seen the toil and trouble of life in the tent town and fields. After a final encounter with rattlesnakes, the miner's fed-up expression says it all: "Crusty long johns, / Smelly shirt. / Sweat-stained britches / Caked with dirt." Upon returning home and kissing his cow, Jasper is quite happy to wave good luck to the continuing stream of westward-bound forty-niners. The author provides a brief opening historical note about the influx of population to California during the rush for gold and the ghost towns created by failed efforts. Her tongue-in-cheek economy beautifully encapsulates this brief, colorful moment in history, and the pictures speak volumes.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First-time author Kay's gloriously terse verse takes a rhymin' romp through the gold fields of 1849 California. "Dashing westward,/ Many miners./ Townsfolk snicker,/ `Forty-niners.' " So begins the dynamic tale of a farmer named Jasper who leaves home and hearth to find his fortune. Kay shoehorns a motherlode of historical information into her minimalist chronicle of Jasper's misadventures. As Kay tots up Jasper's provisions ("Packed a shovel,/ Pistol, pick,/ Goldpan, bedroll,/ Walking stick"), describes the often disagreeable conditions on the journey west ("Prairie-dust storm,/ River, rocks./ Desert, sagebrush,/ Holes in socks") and sketches the disappointments that await ("Grumpy miners,/ Nuggets--small./ Jasper scowling,/ Fireside brawl"), Schindler's (Don't Fidget a Feather) jaunty colored pencil illustrations skillfully move the action forward, adding layers of texture and detail with flashes of humor. A rich vein of Americana, cleverly mined. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Another gold rush book? Even with the glut on the market, this tongue-in-cheek funny, very succinct history of the Forty-Niners in verse is welcome. Toddlers and adults alike will giggle over Kay's poetic take on the Eastern farmer who forsakes barn and family to make his fortune-only to return home gold-less to kiss the cow. Schindler's humorously wry illustrations add to the fun.
School Library Journal
Another in the author's series of verse narratives, this title offers a glimpse into the 1849 California Gold Rush. Kay describes one man's experience with gold fever, his journey to California, and his empty-handed return to his farm and family. Colored-pencil drawings add humor and detail. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Kay debuts with a rollicking tale about an idealistic farmer's quest for gold and glory during the gold rush of 1849. Jasper's dreams of discovering gold lead him on a journey westward, leaving farm and family behind. However, Jasper is dismayed at the hardships he encounters while searching for the elusive metal. Albeit brief, Kay's minimalist verses, set in sing-song rhymes, convey their message with piercing clarity. "Icy water,/Wet feet, cold./Sluicing, panning,/`Where's the gold?'/Grumpy miners,/Nuggets-small/Jasper scowling,/Fireside brawl." Increasingly disgruntled and disillusioned, Jasper has a close encounter with a rattlesnake that prompts his return home. Back in the cozy comfort of his farm, the resilient Jasper benignly waves on other aspiring miners, wishing them well. Kay realistically depicts the wild expectations that caused so many to abandon their way of life to gamble on a long shot and the often harsh conditions they encountered in California. Schindler's detailed illustrations, executed in colored pencil, provide readers with a glimpse into a forty-niner's world. As an introduction to a vital piece of American history, it's wryly humorous and unflinchingly candid. (Picture book. 4-8) .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142501832
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/10/2003
  • Series: Picture Puffin Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

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