________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 10 . . . . January 21, 2005


Barkerville Gold.

Dayle Campbell Gaetz.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2004.
178 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55143-306-0.

Subject Headings:
Barkerville (B.C.)-History-Juvenile fiction.
Cariboo (B.C.: Regional district)-Gold discoveries-Juvenile fiction.

Ghost stories.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Julie Hunt.

*** /4

Barkerville Gold is an intriguing book which sparks interest in historic Barkerville in British Columbia. The author creates an exciting mystery intertwined with interesting facts about this gold mining town. Readers follow Rusty, Katie, and Sheila as they investigate two look-a-like prospectors who seem bent on finding Three Finger Evans' stolen gold. The trio must work fast to uncover the mystery before an ancient curse exacts its toll on the son of a new found friend.

It hit Rusty that Daniel couldn't know about the curse, because if he did, he would help Ms. Evans, not get in her way. "Tell him about Eng Chung," he said. "Tell him how Three Finger Evans died the day before his forty-second birthday, and your husband did too!" Ms. Evans sighed. "They aren't the only ones. I learned, from old papers in my attic, that James Evans, Three Finger's son, died in1901. He was test-driving one of the first cars ever seen around Cornwall when he veered off the road into a ravine - the day before his forty-second birthday."

"James' son, Alan, was only an infant then, but he grew up to be my husband's father. Alan Evans was an air force pilot during World War II. He was old for a fighter pilot, I suspect, and may have lied about his age. He was shot down in 1941- the day before his forty-second birthday." She glanced from Daniel to Bill. "You may recall that my husband, Ted, met a similar fate when he was crop-dusting our fields and crashed into a drainage ditch? Which means, including Three Finger, that's four first-born sons."

     The plot of Barkerville Gold holds the reader's interest as Rusty works to fit together the various clues. Unlike some mysteries where the resolution depends on a key fact being kept secret from the reader for most of the story, this book provides enough information for sleuths to puzzle out a probable solution. The characters are accessible as well. I particularly like the way Campbell Gaetz creates a less than perfect protagonist in Rusty. This is a boy who loves history, is good at drawing, and uses his artist's eye to notice important details in his surroundings. However, he is clumsy, is last to be chosen for teams in gym class, and daydreams so much he gets on his patient grandma's nerves in record time. With differing strengths in Katie and Sheila, most young readers will be able to identify with at least one of the central figures.

     With ample leading between the text, an intriguing mystery to uncover, and a great choice of setting, independent readers will enjoy Barkerville Gold. Teachers will also find this book an excellent choice for a novel study or literature circle that leads into an in depth study of Barkerville and the gold rush.


Julie Hunt is a teacher-librarian in West Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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