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Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine by Caroline Starr Rose

Posted by Sherry on 11/6/2017 in 2017, Children's Fiction, General |

The Klondike Gold Rush. I’ve read lots of books about the early 1850’s and the California Gold Rush, but I don’t really know much about the Klondike Gold Rush of the late nineteenth century.

The Klondike Gold Rush was a migration by an estimated 100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region of the Yukon in north-western Canada between 1896 and 1899. Gold was discovered there by local miners on August 16, 1896, and, when news reached Seattle and San Francisco the following year, it triggered a stampede of prospectors. Some became wealthy, but the majority went in vain. ~Wikipedia

Eleven year old Jasper and his older brother Melvin become two boys caught up in the maelstrom that was the Klondike Gold Rush in this adventure story. As the boys travel to gold rush country together, they learn to depend on one another and to persist in their quest, even when it looks as if all is lost.

The characters in this novel were quirky, but believable for that place and time when there were a lot of quirky and cantankerous old prospectors running around. I liked the fact that there were good people who helped each other out and followed the “miner’s code” and others who were thieves and lazy schemers who just wanted to get rich quick. Also, the consequences of Jasper’s foolishness were realistic and dangerous. The riddle part was a bit hard to swallow, but it made a nice mystery to hang the plot onto. All-in-all, a good story.

After reading this fictional take on the Klondike Gold Rush, I wanted to read a couple of other titles from my shelves on the same subject, but I haven’t had time yet to do so. Anyway, here are the wo that I plan to read as soon as I finish the dozens of middle grade speculative fiction books I have on deck for the Cybils:

The Gold Miners’ Rescue: Sheldon Jackson by Dave and Neta Jackson. Historical fiction about real-life doctor and missionary, Sheldon Jackson. A boy, Adam, recently graduated from the Sitka Industrial and Training School, joins Dr. Sheldon Jackson on his 1897 expedition to the Yukon to rescue hundreds of starving gold miners and to bring reindeer to the indigenous peoples of the area.

The Alaska Gold Rush by May McNeer. Landmark book #92. The story begins with a morning newspaper headline: “Gold! Gold Strike in the Klondike!” And it ends with a chapter on all of the stories that came out of the Klondike Gold Rush from writers such as Robert Service and Jack London and Rex Beach and from old-timers who still talk (or still did talk when this book was published in 1960) of the sourdoughs and miners such as Belinda Mulroney and Skookum Jim and Big Alex, King of the Klondike. I really want to read this book soon.

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