From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-This colorful book recounts the discovery of gold in the American West circa 1848. From James Marshall's discovery through the treacherous trip by more than 300,000 migrants willing to leave home to try their luck, Brown relates their history through firsthand accounts from the Library of Congress and personal stories of success and failure. The author offers facts and describes experiences to show the arduous travel, toil, and suffering that the forty-niners found at their destination. The full-page pen-and-ink and watercolor artwork surrounds the text nicely with detailed maps and realistic vignettes of the travelers' and miners' lives. The author does not hesitate to reveal the darker side of mining communities. One illustration vividly depicts the shotgun murder of an American Indian, with a description of the tragic fate of many Indians in the goldfields through violence, disease, and enslavement. The book presents a thorough description of a unique period in American history, illustrated in a manner to attract younger readers.-Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In the same format as his early-reader histories of the first days of the Revolutionary War (Let It Begin Here! 2008) and the sinking of the Titanic (All Stations! Distress! 2008), Brown here takes a look at the 1849 California gold rush. With easygoing prose and revealing quotes from forty-niners and historians alike, Brown recounts how easterners made their way to California, and once there, how they spent what little money they had on outrageously priced supplies and toiled under harsh conditions to strike it rich. Aside from the grizzled army of prospectors, Brown also shines light on the roles of the few women present and the plight of the California Indians (including an illustration of one being shot in the back). The inventive page compositions and scratchy watercolor cartoon figures carry small, telling dramas (the tiny grin that punctuates a successful panner’s face is priceless), and sweeping western landscapes come into full relief, bringing not only visual context but a sense of playfulness to the book. A solid look at an eventful period in American history. Grades 2-4. --Ian Chipman