Hoping to strike it rich, two brothers escape an abusive father and set out on a treacherous journey to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush.
Desperate to get away from their drunkard of a father, eleven-year-old Jasper and his older brother Melvin often talk of running away, of heading north to Alaska to chase riches beyond their wildest dreams. The Klondike Gold Rush is calling, and Melvin has finally decided the time to go is now—even if that means leaving Jasper behind. But Jasper has other plans, and follows his brother aboard a steamer as a stowaway.
Onboard the ship, Jasper overhears a rumor about One-Eyed Riley, an old coot who's long since gone, but is said to have left clues to the location of his stake, which still has plenty of gold left. The first person to unravel the clues and find the mine can stake the claim and become filthy rich. Jasper is quick to catch gold fever and knows he and Melvin can find the mine—all they have to do is survive the rough Alaskan terrain, along with the steep competition from the unscrupulous and dangerous people they encounter along the way.
In an endearing, funny, pitch-perfect middle grade voice, Caroline Starr Rose tells another stellar historical adventure young readers will long remember.
Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mineby Caroline Starr Rose
Jasper and his brother, Melvin, embark in an adventurous journey as they strive to make brighter futures for themselves in the Klondike Gold Rush. The reader follows these two through many struggles and obstacles as they strive to survive the harsh conditions of the terrain, weather, and atmosphere. While based on a real, historical event, the author's note does describe where liberties were taken for the sake of the story. Rose's writing is real and you can get a sense of the danger they get into as well as the desperation/need for success. Rose has cleverly worked in details to help them along the way, despite their circumstances.
Along the journey, Jasper is following clues to find an abandoned mine. This thread is weaved through the story and lets the reader try to figure it out alongside him. There is a map provided to assist in trying to discover the answer to the riddles.
While the age is recommended for 9+, there is quite a bit of violence and the situations they encounter are quite dangerous - often life-threatening. Keep in mind that some guidance may be required. This book would strongly appeal to a male audience. Readers who love twists and turns and wondering whether or not the characters are going to survive will love this book. With every chapter the reader wonders what will happen next and anticipates the final outcome.
Review of an Advance Reading Copy
Violence/Gore: Threat of knocking sense into someone; memory of being beaten across the legs with a belt; adult hits minor across cheek; adult throws coffee pot at minor - misses head; memory of being swatted with a ruler; threat of swatting with ruler; adult kicks minor in chest; adult threatens another adult for stealing; adult chases minor and verbally threatens; metaphor of being rolled over by a wagon, shattering all bones; injuries from sharp rocks leading to slick blood; adult grabs minor by neck, holds tight, drops to ground, and swings at him hitting his arm; minor shoves minor; minor pounds minor with fist; raft disappears with perception that adult will die; adult ties up minor with muffler and leaves; adult grabs adult by arm and shakes; minor punches adult in the face; minor hits head and blood from head wound soaks up sleeve; adult squeezes wind out of minor-injuring ribs; adult holds minor at gun point, ties with muffler and drags; adult holds minor at back of the neck; minor kicks adult in injured shin; adult shoots minor in leg - ambiguous as to accident or intentional - minor passes out, report of blood from gunshot wound.
Mature Subject Matter:
Drunk and abusive parent, death of parent, stealing, wilderness survival, kidnapping, arrest of adult.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Alcoholic parent; someone selling whiskey; adult smokes pipe tobacco; adult with tobacco-stained handkerchief.
Reviewed By Lacey