THE WELLS FARGO BOOK OF THE GOLD RUSH

California went from territory to statehood exceedingly fast because the discovery of gold brought in prospectors from any place on the globe where the news spread. James Marshall found gold at Sutter’s Coloma mill, but it was not he who started the “Rush”—it was supply store owner Sam Brannan, an excommunicated Mormon who ran into San Francisco shouting, “Gold! Gold!,” thus propelling California into statehood and Sutter into poverty. Rau discusses technical details of mining, trade, demographics, personalities, customs, history, the story of the Wells Fargo Company, and more in an account generously illustrated from the Wells Fargo Archives. The anecdotes she supplies are interesting and amusing, offering an often fascinating look at a period of time like no other in history. However, a map of the state is needed since most won’t know that Fort Ross on the Pacific Coast is several mountain ranges and many miles from Coloma, among other geographical niceties. More also should have been made about the destruction of California’s native population, the extreme danger to foreigners, especially the Chinese, and the rape of the land because of mining practices. The book reads well but Rau’s paeans to Wells Fargo are a mite excessive and various matters are left dangling or unexplained. The book is filled with minor errors, nothing egregious, but annoying to a true scholar of California history. While this is not a first choice, it is certainly a good additional purchase, one that every school in the “Golden State” will acquire. (index; no footnotes; bibliography lacks Web sites) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83019-X

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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A richly detailed account of a little-known event in World War II.

LIFEBOAT 12

An escape from war-torn Britain becomes a struggle for survival when a ship is torpedoed off the coast of England.

In June 1940, Great Britain formed the Children’s Overseas Reception Board to transfer Britain’s children away from the encroaching war to safe harbors around the world. Over 200,000 children between the ages of 5 and 15 applied for just 20,000 spots. Thirteen-year-old Kenneth Sparks is chosen to travel on the City of Benares, a luxury ocean liner, to Canada, where he will live with his aunt in Edmonton. The children are distracted by rich food, new toys, and soft beds, but the accompanying convoy of war ships is a constant reminder that while the blitzkrieg might be behind them, German torpedoes are a very present threat. Three days into their voyage, the Benares is hit, sending crew and passengers into the lifeboats and the water. Ken, along with a handful of others, all white except 32 Asian sailors of varied ethnicity (called Lascars at the time), must survive with little water, food, or shelter if they are to make it out alive. Told in verse, the story of Lifeboat 12 is lyrical, terrifying, and even at times funny. Hood makes effective use of line breaks and punctuation to wrap readers up in Ken’s tale. Copious research, including interviews with the real Ken Sparks, went into the making of this fictional recasting of a true story of survival. Backmatter offers further information, including the racism experienced by the Lascars.

A richly detailed account of a little-known event in World War II. (Historical verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6883-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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