Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Klondike Gold Rush

The Klondike Gold Rush

Marc Tyler Nobleman
For ages 9 to 10
Compass Point Books, 2006   ISBN: 978-0756516307

Ethel and Clarence Berry did not have the means to go on a leisurely honeymoon in some warm vacation spot. Instead, in 1896, they did they exact opposite – they chose to go gold prospecting in the Klondike where living conditions were very hard and where the climate was frightful for much of the year. Unlike so many other gold seekers, these two struck it rich in Rabbit Creek and their success encouraged hundreds of people from all over the country to try their luck in the Klondike.

In August of 1896 Skookum Jim and George Washington Carmack found gold in Rabbit Creek and it was from Carmack's own lips that Clarence Berry heard about the strike on Rabbit Creek. Word spread quickly as prospectors made their way back to San Francisco with bags full of gold nuggets, and soon people from all walks of life were trying to get to the Klondike. What they did not know was that local people had already snapped up the best claims. Most of the late comers would not find the riches that the early prospectors came away with.

Instead they would find hardship, illness, and sometimes even death. The journey to the Klondike was, quite simply, brutal. For most people the only way to get to the Klondike was to walk over the White Pass or the Chilkoot Pass, and then travel down the Yukon River for five hundred miles to Dawson City in Yukon Territory.

If they had the good luck to reach Dawson City, prospectors more often then not found very little gold and most of them went home worn out and empty handed.

With many splendid period photographs to break up the text, a map, and more, this description of the Klondike gold rush is fascinating. Readers will meet some of the principal characters in the story of this short lived gold rush, and they will come to appreciate how futile the journey was for thousands of people.