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A TALE OF GOLD by Thelma Hatch Wyss


by Thelma Hatch Wyss

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4169-4212-2
Publisher: McElderry

At 14, orphaned James leaves San Francisco to become a “stampeder” in the Yukon. He has some money and his dead father’s small savings to buy a steamboat ticket to Alaska and a mining outfit once he’s there. Aboard the rusty, crowded steamer, he meets people who will be his friends in the wilds and the usual assortment of con men, cheats and thieves; they, too, will reappear. The story covers the tough life in the diggings, winter, the hard work, the dangers and describes his partner, who, readers learn, is a girl disguised as a boy. Everything should be exciting as Wyss tells about the adventure, but in James’s first-person narration, it is quite pedestrian. Excitement is described, never rising from the page, and the story has so many elements that the action blurs. Moreover, how did James buy about 2,000 pounds of supplies with the small amount of money he had, and how did he portage it over the Chilkoot Pass by himself? The Yukon rush of the 1890s is historic, but even when James and his companions find gold, it seems unexciting. (A map would have been a plus.) (Historical fiction. 6-8)