A Tale of Gold

Overview

GOLD! GOLD! GOLD! scream the headlines in July 1987, announcing the discovery of gold in the Yukon. Fourteen-year-old James Erickson, alone in the world after his father's death, is mesmerized when he sees the first ship of prospectors enter the San Francisco harbor. Caught up in the gold fever, he books passage on a steamer up to Alaska.

In Alaska, James meets Tip, a skinny boy who turns out to be a girl—and the only person James trusts to be his partner. Together they embark ...

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A Tale of Gold

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Overview

GOLD! GOLD! GOLD! scream the headlines in July 1987, announcing the discovery of gold in the Yukon. Fourteen-year-old James Erickson, alone in the world after his father's death, is mesmerized when he sees the first ship of prospectors enter the San Francisco harbor. Caught up in the gold fever, he books passage on a steamer up to Alaska.

In Alaska, James meets Tip, a skinny boy who turns out to be a girl—and the only person James trusts to be his partner. Together they embark on a treacherous trek over the mountains and down the river, battling rapids, con men, and the cold. When their survival skills—and their dedication to each other—are tested, James and Tip wonder whether their exhausting journey will be worth it. Is their fortune waiting just beyond the next bend? And what are they willing to risk to find out?

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Middle readers may know about the California Gold Rush, but what about the 1897-98 discovery of gold in the Yukon? In this tale of fourteen-year-old orphan James Erickson, who takes off for the Klondike to try his luck with a meager inheritance and a gold nugget, the author manages to include a wealth of information about that stampede, while deftly developing her characters. James survives adventures including sailing on an unseaworthy steamer to Alaska, being robbed by unscrupulous predators, packing supplies over a dangerous pass, shooting rapids and, finally, laboring night and day to strike the elusive gold. Hardships and heartbreak are suffered by vivid minor characters, including the deranged con man known as "Feathers," vicious miners Tall Joe and Short Joe, dance hall girl Pansy, and the sweet, doomed Sam. When James takes on a partner—a skinny young boy who turns out to be a girl—and both of them are taken in by a grizzled miner called Crazy Caribou, relationships emerge and flower. Both James and thirteen-year-old Tip (who gradually discovers her femininity) grow and mature as they grapple with implacable nature and desperate adults—and sometimes even have fun. The well-constructed plot, with its fascinating details of life in the Yukon, will keep readers turning pages to answer irresistible questions: Will James and his partners ever find gold? More important, will they be able to sustain their hard-won trust and affection for each other after they leave the goldfields? Wyss has fashioned a satisfying coming-of-age narrative in a truly unusual setting. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
Kirkus Reviews
At 14, orphaned James leaves San Francisco to become a "stampeder" in the Yukon. He has some money and his dead father's small savings to buy a steamboat ticket to Alaska and a mining outfit once he's there. Aboard the rusty, crowded steamer, he meets people who will be his friends in the wilds and the usual assortment of con men, cheats and thieves; they, too, will reappear. The story covers the tough life in the diggings, winter, the hard work, the dangers and describes his partner, who, readers learn, is a girl disguised as a boy. Everything should be exciting as Wyss tells about the adventure, but in James's first-person narration, it is quite pedestrian. Excitement is described, never rising from the page, and the story has so many elements that the action blurs. Moreover, how did James buy about 2,000 pounds of supplies with the small amount of money he had, and how did he portage it over the Chilkoot Pass by himself? The Yukon rush of the 1890s is historic, but even when James and his companions find gold, it seems unexciting. (A map would have been a plus.) (Historical fiction. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442430907
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 4/18/2011
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 651,646
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Thelma Hatch Wyss lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is the author
of Here at the Scenic-Vu Motel, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults;
Ten Miles from Winnemucca, a Junior Library Guild Selection and a
Bank Street College Best Book of the Year; and on the McElderry list,
Bear Dancer: The Story of a Ute Girl, which won the Mountains &
Plains Independent Booksellers Association Regional Book Award and was on
the New York Public Library's "100 Titles for Reading and Sharing" list.

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