GOLD! GOLD FROM THE AMERICAN RIVER!
Age Range: 8 - 10
Watercolors and text depict the story of the discovery of gold in the Territory of California. It is an exciting tale of special interest to Californians and marks a key period in U.S. history. Unfortunately, this book fails to convey both excitement and description of characters, of which the time and place had many. The author tells of the discovery at Sutter’s Mill and of Sam Brannan’s shouted news in Yerba Buena (later San Francisco), which caused the Rush. Why not say more about Brannan, an interesting cad? Why not more about John Sutter, a disappointed man? The remainder of the book relates the experiences of the emigrants and the successes and failures of the gold hunters, but this breadth of approach reduces the overall energy of the book. Readers may find themselves wishing for both a glossary—what was meant by the “cradles” miners used?—and a map. Brown’s illustrations show scenes and representations of persons but are not really helpful. The California Gold Rush was energetic, thrilling and important. Alas, this book is none of those things. (author’s note, sources) (Nonfiction. 8-10)