cover image Gold! Gold From the American River!

Gold! Gold From the American River!

Don Brown, Roaring Brook/Flash Point, $17.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-59643-223-9

Brown (All Stations, Distress!) adds another installment to his Actual Times series, this time focusing on the California Gold Rush, using numerous primary source quotes to flesh out the lively chronology. "You're working in freezing water up to your waist for hours at a time. You're reaching down, moving rocks." Readers hear from participants in all aspects of the story, from the initial gold find near Sutter's Mill in 1848 to the treacherous migration of fortune seekers (one route even took travelers on "a harrowing jungle tramp across the Isthmus" of Panama) and the often disappointing, impoverished endings to gold diggers' efforts. Full-bleed watercolors, rich in dusty brown and gray hues, fill the pages, illustrating not only the 49ers' hardships, but also the role of women and the plight of foreigners and Native Americans who crossed miners' paths, as one graphic illustration reveals ("The California Indians' tragic fate is a national shame" writes Brown). This well-researched account details how several things originated from the country's gold fever—such as the idiom "pans out," Levi Strauss jeans, and the dramatic expansion of the city of San Francisco. Ages 6–10. (Feb.)