Kay debuts with a rollicking tale about an idealistic farmer's quest for gold and glory during the gold rush of 1849. Jasper's dreams of discovering gold lead him on a journey westward, leaving farm and family behind. However, Jasper is dismayed at the hardships he encounters while searching for the elusive metal. Albeit brief, Kay's minimalist verses, set in sing-song rhymes, convey their message with piercing clarity. ""Icy water,/Wet feet, cold./Sluicing, panning,/'Where's the gold?'/Grumpy miners,/Nuggets--small/Jasper scowling,/Fireside brawl."" Increasingly disgruntled and disillusioned, Jasper has a close encounter with a rattlesnake that prompts his return home. Back in the cozy comfort of his farm, the resilient Jasper benignly waves on other aspiring miners, wishing them well. Kay realistically depicts the wild expectations that caused so many to abandon their way of life to gamble on a long shot and the often harsh conditions they encountered in California. Schindler's detailed illustrations, executed in colored pencil, provide readers with a glimpse into a forty-niner's world. As an introduction to a vital piece of American history, it's wryly humorous and unflinchingly candid.