Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Gold Rush Kid

The Gold Rush Kid

Mary Waldorf
Historical Fiction
For ages 9 to 12
Clarion Books, 2008   ISBN: 978-0618977307

Since their father left for the Klondike, life has been pretty hard for twelve year old Billy and his sister Edna. Their mother has died and the neighbors have raised enough money to pay for two tickets so that the children can go back to Seattle. However, Edna has no intention of going south. Instead she means to go north to find her father and to help him get rich in the gold fields. Stubborn Edna will not be swayed and she even goes so far as to cut her hair and disguise herself so that people will think that she is an eighteen year old boy called Ed and not a sixteen year old girl called Edna. Edna sells one of the tickets and trades the other for a complete Klondike "outfit" that is supposed to include everything they need to get to Dawson City in Canada.

The children make their way to Dyea and then begin the backbreaking business of carrying their supplies up the Chilkoot trail. Along the way they meet a young prospector called Jack Purdy and after Billy saves his life, Jack helps "Ed" and Billy to persuade the Canadian authorities to let them cross the border into the Yukon territory.

Billy thinks that the worst is behind them but hard times still lie ahead. Even after Edna and Billy find their father their future looks very uncertain.

Today it is hard to imagine that anyone made the grueling journey from Skagway to Dawson City on foot, and yet hundreds of men, women, and children did so after gold was discovered in the Klondike. This book not only tells the story about those prospectors, but it also explores a young boy's efforts to have some control over his own life. With great sensitivity the author examines the nature of courage, showing her readers that courage comes in many forms. Sometimes just surviving is an act of enormous bravery.