From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9-The allure of gold drew thousands west to California in the 1850s, yet, equally as significant, although perhaps less popularized, the call of gold also pulled families north to Alaska. This unique book explores the Yukon Gold Rush of 1879-1898 from the perspective of native and immigrant children who were forced to live with divorce, death, separation, and constant change brought on by their parents' quests to strike it rich. The book introduces a diverse group of youngsters: Crystal and Monte Snow, singing on stage for miners at the ages of five and three; Anto and Nettie, twins whose mother was the daughter of an Athabascan Indian chief, and father a former circus acrobat; and Klondy Nelson, who was abandoned by her gold-crazed father and became a success as a musician. The children's reminiscences range from fond memories of reindeer herders, ice fishing, and gold-nugget necklaces, to worms in oatmeal, poverty, loneliness-and love. All of the youngsters are marked by their resiliency and their capacity for happiness in an unfamiliar and often harsh environment. Each profile is augmented with diary excerpts, advertisements of the day, archival photographs, maps, and illustrations. The effect is a colorful, albumlike melange that reflects the diversity of the children's lives. The photographs are especially effective, supplementing the short text with factual information on aspects of the social conditions of the day. A positive, satisfying immersion into a little-known subject.Jennifer A. Fakolt, Denver Public Library
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
This excellent, well-researched book offers a rare peek into a fascinating culture, history, and people, in portraits of eight intrepid children and their families during the Alaskan/Yukon Territory gold rush. Murphy and Haigh give voices to children who tell of dangerous journeys to Alaskan mining camps, the brutal, cold winters, building small towns in rough terrain, and the disintegration of many families due to gold fever. The children adapted to a whole new way of life, prospected, entertained miners, and felt the effects of sudden fortune or bleak poverty. Fascinating sidebars address other children of the gold rush or other facets of that life, from schooling and the use of sled dogs, to panning for gold. Although the hardships are never glossed over, the design of the book has an antique charm, with photographs, ticket stubs, old handbills, maps, and journal excerpts. (glossary, further reading) (Nonfiction. 8-12) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.