Coombs introduces himself as an amateur prospector--and this is indeed pegged on the recent rise in the price of gold and the resulting rush to find some. The standard information (on the ancient history of gold and its modern-day uses) thus serves mainly to frame what youngsters will find far more intriguing: the California gold rush and the Comstock Lode, the techniques of placer and deep-shaft mining, professional and amateur procedures today. The historical material has both specificity and breadth--not so common in brief wrap-ups like this; the description of present-day professional mining takes due note of the rigors and hazards of a miner's job. But it's the how-to info that's the biggest attraction here--from how to stake a claim through the choice and use of equipment (not so different from the '49ers) to the latest ways-and-means: underwater prospecting and electronic detecting. (Characteristically, Coombs stresses safety and teamwork in the first instance--while we see a child of ten or so confidently wielding a detector.) The final chapter offers a tidy, up-do-date look at the other two precious metals, silver and platinum. It's one book on gold (in particular) that's likely to get some extra-curricular use.