Klondike Gold

Klondike Gold

by Alice Provensen
     
 

Eureka! In 1897 gold was discovered in the Klondike, setting off a wave of gold fever. Thousands of prospectors trekked northward in the hopes of finding fortune. Based on the true story of one young prospector, this book traces the grueling journey through the mountains and up the Yukon River to claim a stake and dig for gold.

Using a unique triptych format to

Overview

Eureka! In 1897 gold was discovered in the Klondike, setting off a wave of gold fever. Thousands of prospectors trekked northward in the hopes of finding fortune. Based on the true story of one young prospector, this book traces the grueling journey through the mountains and up the Yukon River to claim a stake and dig for gold.

Using a unique triptych format to showcase the action, Caldecott-winning illustrator Alice Provensen tells the tale of the rugged adventurers who braved the harsh conditions and risked incredible odds, all for the slim chance of striking it rich.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In her new book, Provensen effectively puts a human face on the 1897 stampede into Yukon Territory after gold is discovered on the banks of the Klondike River, and bases her narrator on an actual miner. Bill Howell, a bored Boston shopkeeper, agrees to accompany his optimistic pal Joe on a search for gold in the Northwest. Bill's anecdotal narrative together with Provensen's finely detailed oil paintings (with a stylistic nod to old Western posters) traces the pair's journey. A long horizontal panel illustration at the bottom of a spread depicts the duo's train trip to Chicago; "from there [we] worked or bummed our way west on the freight trains bound for Seattle," where they board a ship to the Yukon Territory. Another such panel lists the "recommended `outfit' for a gold seeker" (i.e., essential supplies). The account of what conditions were like for the adventurers (e.g., it took 23 days to lug two tons of supplies 13 miles), the food they ate, etc., will keep readers rapt. In a triumphant moment one spring morning, after months of traveling and finally staking a claim on a tributary of the Klondike River, the two wash the piles of "pay dirt" they had dug up and find "flakes and pebbles of pure gold." In this rich historical nugget, art and text convey the danger, thrill, exhilaration and heartbreak experienced by these persevering prospectors. Ages 5-10. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This book, based on a true story, has all the ingredients of greatness: A Caldecott winning illustrator, an exciting subject rarely explored in children's books and a triptych format that includes at the bottom of each page amplifying illustrations and facts. When the final page is turned, however, the tingle that comes from an exceptional book is missing. The fault is a lack of harmony among the elements. An example is the description of the struggle it was to backpack the tons of supplies needed by the gold seekers in the Canada gold rush of 1897. Although weight of the supplies carried by the two men is two tons and although the text describes prospectors climbing a hill so steep that ice steps were cut to reach the summit, the accompanying illustration features two women sliding down the hill "on their backsides" in a sledding party atmosphere. And while the text says that women "soon were to trade their impractical skirts for bloomers or men's trousers," no woman in any illustration has on anything other than a proper skirt and bonnet. The mention of many who turned back after experiencing some of the hardships is belied by an illustration of clean, happy young men sitting by a spotless tent eating flapjacks cooked on their glowing stove—complete with smoke stack. The text is descriptive and the illustrations are detailed and absorbing but they are out of synch. Nevertheless, this is an informative narrative with clear descriptions of the Klondike gold rush, its participants and the difficulties of finding and removing the elusive treasure that was its goal. 2005, Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, Ages 5 to 10.
—Mildred Hart
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Provensen relays the riveting story of a bored dry-goods employee who drops everything and heads for the Yukon Territory when struck by gold fever at the turn of the 19th century. He and a friend cross the country, outfit themselves in Seattle, and continue the trek north on water, over mountains, and through seasons to the Klondike River. Each spread is divided horizontally into thirds; a band of the text is sandwiched between the primary scenes on the top and a lower border of related information and images. The Caldecott-award winner's oils are reminiscent of, but more rugged than, her illustrations with her late husband Martin for Nancy Willard's A Visit to William Blake's Inn (Harcourt, 1981). The cities are populated with teeming crowds and puffing factories in contrast to the lonely camps in the stark wilderness, although the beauty of those outposts is revealed as in the scene displaying the Northern Lights. Readers will be fascinated by the one-year supply list (800 lbs of flour, 200 lbs of beans) and the stairs of ice carved in the steep slopes; saddened by the animals that had to be abandoned on the arduous ascent; and intrigued by the travelers' ingenuity. The prospectors' drive-and disappointment (when half of the fortune sinks in a thawing river on the return home)--is palpable. This first-rate adventure mingles suspense, history, and detailed depictions of mining in a story that is sure to be a hit in the classroom and under the covers.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Provensen shortens and fictionalizes the account of a participant in that turn-of-the-last-century gold rush, and readers will come away with not only an appreciation for the hardships those prospectors faced-and the massive quantities of gear and supplies required just to reach the remote Yukon, not to mention survive its rigors-but a clear feeling for the wild optimism that fueled the whole enterprise. She sandwiches the reworked narrative of young Bill Howell between two visual streams: A larger one with wide scenes of crowds on the move through boomtowns and frozen landscapes; and a narrow running strip that adds side details, with some explanatory labels. In the end, unlike many of their fellows, Howell and his buddy return from the gold fields weary, a little richer and with their enthusiasm undimmed. This commemoration not only opens a window on a historical era, it provides some sharp insight into, as the author puts it, the enduring "get-rich-quick American myth." (source list) (Fictionalized nonfiction. 8-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689848858
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
10/28/2005
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 12.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
AD1050L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Alice Provensen collaborated with her late husband, Martin, on numerous highly acclaimed picture books, including the Caldecott Medal-winning The Glorious Flight and Nancy Willard's Newbery Medal-winning A Visit to William Blake's Inn, which was also a Caldecott Honor Book. The Provensens have been on the New York Times list of the Ten Best Illustrated Books eight times. Alice lives in Staatsburg, New York, on Maple Hill Farm.

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