Jason's Gold

Jason's Gold

3.9 46
by Will Hobbs

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"Gold!" Jason shouted at the top of his lungs. "Read all about it! Gold discovered in Alaska!"

Within hours of hearing the thrilling news, fifteen-year-old Jason Hawthorn jumps a train for Seattle, stow away on a ship bound for the goldfields, and joins thousands of fellow prospectors attempting the difficult journey to the Klondike

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"Gold!" Jason shouted at the top of his lungs. "Read all about it! Gold discovered in Alaska!"

Within hours of hearing the thrilling news, fifteen-year-old Jason Hawthorn jumps a train for Seattle, stow away on a ship bound for the goldfields, and joins thousands of fellow prospectors attempting the difficult journey to the Klondike. The Dead Horse Trail, the infamous Chilkott Pass, and a five-hundred-mile trip by canoe down the Yukon River lie ahead. With help from a young writer named Jack London, Jason and his dog face moose, bears, and the terrors of a subartic winter in this bone-chilling survival story.

00-01 Tayshas High School Reading List, 01-02 Young Hoosier Book Award Masterlist (Gr 4-6), 01-02 Young Hoosier Book Award Masterlist (Gr 6-8), 01-02 William Allen White Children's Book Award Masterlist, and 01 Heartland Award for Excellence in YA Lit Finalist

Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies 2000, National Council for SS & Child. Book Council, 2000 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA), and 2000 Quick Picks for Young Adults (Recomm. Books for Reluctant Young Readers)

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Editorial Reviews

Horn Book
Will Hobbs is a master at writing the tantalizing beginning so essential to the success of the adventure story: "When the story broke on the streets of New York, it took off like a wildfire on a windy day." That sentence sets the tone and style of a gripping account of a fifteen-year-old boy's encounter with the hazards of the Canadian wilder-ness in 1897 as he struggles to join his older brothers searching for wealth in the goldfields. He is well named in his quest: like the Greek hero of old, Jason encounters a number of trials. There are several cameo appearances by the young Jack London before his success as a writer as well as a number of lesser-known characters, some less than savory but all historical, as an informative author's note indicates. This is a real page turner, complete with near-disasters: men driven to madness by their environment and failures, primitive frontier surgery, attacks by moose and bears, poignant moments when the wilderness exacts its price from those who would challenge it-as in the death of Jason's beloved companion, the dog King. Hobbs is right on target, blending fact and fiction to create a believable story that is fast reading but never simplistic. m.m.b.
Children's Literature - Laura Hummel
Shortly after hearing that gold had been discovered in the Klondike, fifteen-year-old Jason Hawthorne was on his way to join his brothers in Seattle. Upon his arrival, Jason found that his brothers had gone to Alaska and borrowed his inheritance to stake a family claim. With only gritty determination and ten dollars, Jason stows away on a steamer heading north. After being removed from the ship, Jason continues on foot. He gains the companionship of King, a husky he rescues from uncertain death. Together they face many dangers posed by the allure of gold within the setting of the northern lights. During his journey, Jason meets with many unsavory characters and colorful personages such as Jack London. Although the story is fictional, many of the people, places and events are told with bone-chilling accuracy. Scenes at Dead Horse Pass are not for the faint-hearted and, at the Chilkoot Pass, the reader will surely feel the strain of the trek. Although there are some scenes of animal cruelty and realistic danger, the book lends itself to a historical study of the era and would be useful in a social studies program.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 1999: The Gold Rush in the Klondike was a period of brief madness that Hobbs captures well in this tale of a fifteen-year-old, Jason, who was one of the thousands of people who streamed into the Yukon in the summer of 1897. Jason meets young Jack London, not yet famous, of course; he has a loyal husky dog he names King; he hunts a bear and generally uses all his wits to survive that first winter. Hobbs turns this into a personal adventure, drawing the reader into the action. Emotionally, Jason yearns to prove himself to his older brothers, pities and then admires a younger boy whose leg was amputated because of gangrene; gets a crush on a young girl; and generally shares in the excitement and despair that was part of the Gold Rush folly. If the dangerous adventure isn't enough of a pull, then the love story between Jason and his dog, whom he saves from a cruel death, will capture most readers. King becomes Jason's loyal companion, a teammate who helps haul supplies, who hunts with Jason, and generally keeps him and young Charlie from madness when they are holed up in a tiny cabin for the winter. A historical note at the end of the story helps readers understand the magnitude of this insane rush for gold. Hobbs does a good job of bringing his readers to this historical event. (Editor's note: This is an ALA Best Book for YAs; see also the review of the audiobook in this issue.) KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1999, HarperTrophy, 221p, map, 20cm, 99-17973, $4.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; January 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 1)
Library Journal
Gr 5-8-A coming-of-age novel set during the Alaska Gold Rush of the 1890s. Jason Hawthorn, 15, heads north in search of riches and his older brothers who left Seattle as soon as news of the strike hit the newspapers. Along the way, he meets a feisty girl, a young Jack London, and many other colorful characters. The novel is filled with fascinating details about the period, from the excitement and high spirits of the first Klondikers to the extreme hardships and great disappointments suffered by so many. Jason never strikes it rich himself, but he eventually finds his brothers and they settle there. His perils include an icy canoe trip, a moose attack, and a winter spent in a one-room cabin with a one-legged boy. Jason's character sometimes takes a backseat to the Yukon setting, especially in the first part of the book. At times, he acts more as an observer than a protagonist; the setting and other characters emerge vividly through his eyes, but readers don't get to know him all that well. He rescues and adopts a dog as his companion, but the animal seems little more than a story prop. As the tale progresses, though, Jason's personality emerges more, especially as he tries to help the amputee adapt to his condition. Many of the incidents Jason observes are based on actual events and other real-life figures make appearances. The successful presentation of a fascinating era, coupled with plenty of action, makes this a good historical fiction choice, despite the lack of a truly memorable hero.-Steven Engelfried, Deschutes County Library, Bend, OR Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Fifteen-year-old Jason first hears about the discovery of gold in the Klondike while working as a paperboy in New York. He quickly rushes to Seattle to meet up with his brothers, only to find that they have left for the Yukon without him. As he goes the trip alone, adventures pile up. Fighting bears, shooting rapids, and even a crazed moose can't stop him from joining his brothers. Author Will Hobbs (Morrow, 1999) threads Jason's travels with actual historical figures, including Jack London. Also, sprinklings of actual events of the gold rush give listeners an idea of the difficulties encountered. Boyd Gaines is up to the task of narrating Jason through each adventure. His steady, but excited voice adds extra suspense to each dramatic event. Voice changes between characters are minor, though Gaines does manage to make one minor character sound like Jimmy Stewart. With sturdy cassette case and inviting cover art, this audiobook will be well received by those seeking to add to their adventure collections for middle school listeners.-Todd Dunkelberg, Deschutes Public Library System, OR Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.85(d)
860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

When the story broke on the streets of New York, it took off like a wildfire on a windy day.

"Gold!" Jason shouted at the top of his lungs. "Read all about it! Gold discovered in Alaska!"

The sturdy fifteen-year-old newsboy waving the paper in front of Grand Central Depot had arrived in New York only five days before, after nearly a year spent working his way across the continent.

"Gold ship arrives in Seattle!" Jason yelled. "EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it! Prospectors from Alaska. Two tons of gold!"

The headline, GOLD IN ALASKA, spanned the width of the entire page, the letters were so enormous.

People were running toward him like iron filings to a magnet. He was selling the New York Herald hand over fist. His sack was emptying so fast, it was going to be only a matter of minutes before he was sold out.

"Prospectors from Alaska arrive in Seattle! Two tons of gold!"

Jason wanted to shout, Seattle is where I'm from! but instead he repeated the cry "Gold ship arrives in Seattle," all the while burning with curiosity. Beyond the fact that the ship had arrived this very day--this momentous seventeenth of July, 1897--he knew nothing except what was in the headlines. He hadn't even had a chance to read the story yet.

It was unbelievable, all this pushing and shoving. A woman was giving a man a purse-beating over his head for knocking her aside. "Skip the change!" a man in a dark suit cried amid the crush, pressing a silver dollar into Jason's hand for the five-cent newspaper. "Just give me the paper!"

When there was only one left, Jason took off running with it like a dog with a prizebone. In the nearest alley, he threw himself down and began to devour the story.

At six o'clock this morning a steamship sailed into Seattle harbor fromAlaska with two tons of gold aboard. Five thousand people streamed fromthe streets of Seattle onto Schwabacher's Dock to meet the gold ship, the Portland.

Five thousand people at Schwabacher's Dock! He knew Schwabacher's like the back of his hand. Mrs. Beal's rooming house was only six blocks away! Were his brothers, Abraham and Ethan, among the five thousand? Maybe, but probably not. At that hour they would have been on their way to work at the sawmill. Would they have risked being fired for arriving late? He didn't think so. His older brothers were such cautious sorts. Hurriedly, Jason read on:

"Show us your gold!" shouted the crowd as the steamer nosed into the dock.

The prospectors thronging the bow obliged by holding up their riches in canvas and buckskin sacks, in jars, in a five-gallon milk can, all manner of satchels and suitcases. One of the sixty-eight, Frank Phiscator, yelled, "We've got millions!"

Jason closed his eyes. He could picture this just as surely as if he were there. He'd only been gone for ten months. Suddenly he could even smell the salt water and hear the screaming of the gulls above the crowd. Imagine, he told himself, millions in gold. His eyes raced back to the newsprint:

Another of the grizzled prospectors bellowed, "The Klondike is the richest goldfield in the world!"

"Hurrah for the Klondike!" the crowd cheered. "Ho for the Klondike!"

Klondike. Jason paused to savor the word. "Klondike," he said aloud. The name had a magical ring to it, a spellbinding power. The word itself was heavy and solid and dazzling, like a bar of shiny gold.

One of the newly rich disembarking the ship was a young man from Michigan who'd left a small farm two years before with almost nothing to his name. As he wrestled a suitcase weighing over two hundred pounds down the gangplank, the handle broke, to a roar from the crowd.

It almost hurt reading this, it was so stupendous. Two hundred pounds of gold!

That man had left home with almost nothing to his name, Jason thought, just like I did. That could have been me if only I'd heard about Alaska ten months ago, when I first took off....It could have been Jason Hawthorn dragging a fortune in gold off that ship.

Jason could imagine himself disembarking, spotting his brothers in the crowd, seeing the astonishment in their eyes ... their sandy-haired little brother returning home, a conquering hero!

"Dreams of grandeur," he whispered self-mockingly, and found the spot where he'd left off:

A nation unrecovered from the panic of '93 and four years of depression now casts its hopeful eyes upon Alaska. Today's events, in a lightning stroke, point north from Seattle toward that vast and ultimate frontier whose riches have only begun to be plumbed. It may well be that a gold rush to dwarf the great California rush of '49 may already be under way as these lines are penned, as untold numbers of argonauts, like modern Jasons, make ready to pursue their Golden Fleeces. Klondike or Bust!

The rush is only beginning, he realized. It could still be me.

A grin was spreading across his face. A modern Jason he already was, and in fact his father had named him after the treasure-seeking hero from Greek mythology.

In a split second all his plans were turning about like a racing sloop. His sails were filling with a wind blowing from an entirely different direction.

Then he hesitated, remembering the vow he'd made to himself to live on his own hook for a year before returning home. But ten months was nearly a year, he reasoned, and he knew from his brothers' letters and telegrams that they were already impressed by his stamina and resourcefulness, as well as by the marvelous mountains and prairies and cities that he had seen.

Just think how it would strike Abraham and Ethan if he returned from the road only long enough to pack tip and light out for the Klondike!

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