CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 2 . . . . September 14, 2007
Crazy for Gold is the third installment in the “Canadian Flyer Adventures” series. This time around, Emily Bing and her friend Matt Martinez find a wide-brimmed brown leather hat labeled Gold Rush, 1898, in the dresser, and their unique time-traveling sled takes them on a Klondike adventure.
Upon their arrival, they discover that in order to get to Dawson City to find gold, travelers must first climb the Golden Stairs (1,500 stairs carved into mountain ice) toting a year's supply of food and equipment as ruled by the North West Mounted Police. It takes hours to climb the Stairs, and, after they reach the summit, more harsh travel is in store as people must transport everything to Crater Lake, on to Lake Bennett and then build a boat to sail down the Yukon River, carrying them to Dawson City.
While they think "the hard part of the gold rush is finally over [and] the easy, fun part is starting," after a few hours of gently floating down the River, Matt and Emily hear a loud rumble which turns out to be the Yukon River rapids, and they head through the Miles Canyon, Squaw and White Horse Rapids.
Once surviving this harrowing experience, they eventually arrive in Dawson City to find a "jumble of dusty tents, half-finished buildings, warehouses, and muddy streets" which is hardly what they expected of a prospering gold town. They meet up with Isabel's father whose words perfectly sum up the expectation of all gold rushers during this time in history: "We all figured we'd just dip out hands into a stream and scoop up buckets of gold. That's not the way things have turned out."
Wishinsky weaves many historical facts about the Klondike Gold Rush in with Emily and Matt's adventures. Readers will be sure to learn handfuls of information about this time in Canadian history without realizing that a history lesson is hidden within this adventure story. At the story's conclusion, readers will also find additional facts from the author as well as Emily and Matt "Top Ten Facts" with extra information about this time in history.
Dean Griffiths again lends his talent to create perfect illustrations. His wonderfully drawn illustrations perfectly coincide with the storyline. In the chapter entitled "Wild Water," the characters are aboard the Almost There and battling the scary Yukon River rapids, as is easily seen on their terrified faces. In the same chapter and on the cover, Griffiths supplies a picture of Samuel Steele, Superintendent of the North West Mounted Police (forerunners to the RCMP). Along with learning about the North West Mounted Police's role in the Gold Rush, the reader is able to see what the uniform looked like at this time.
Even though it is the third installment in this series, at the start of the story, Wishinsky supplies a one-page "How it all began" which introduces the reader to the characters and premise of the Canadian Flyer. This information then allows the story to stand alone for those who have not read the previous two titles. Overall, Crazy for Gold is a great installment in a fine new Canadian historical fiction series for children.
Remember to check out Maple Tree Press' website for additional information about the series and more Top Ten Facts, at www.mapletreepress.com/canadianflyeradventures/.
Saache Heinrich is the Youth Services Manager at Wheatland Regional Library in Saskatoon, SK.
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