Here, in an excellent addition to the ""Once Upon America"" series, Bucky, 12, vividly describes the extremes he endures--and others fail to endure--to strike it rich in 1897. The 1000-mile trek to Dawson City begins in mid-March and takes months as Bucky's Pa and Uncle Tanner each haul a year's supply of food over the grueling trail. The work of shoveling muck into the sluice box, rinsing, scraping gravel from riffles, and panning for gold is relentless but also rewarding as gold flakes accumulate. When Bucky and his father realize that Uncle Tanner may be gambling away their hard-earned profits, they track him clown and head for home. DeClements's warmly drawn characters and taut account will have kids hungering to know more about this bit of history. A closing note combines historical fact with the author's own experience of Alaska. Illustrations not seen.