The Klondike Ring
Reviewed: December 26, 2003
By: Andrea and David Spalding
Publisher: Whitecap Books
141 pages, $8.95
“There’s many a tale told on the trail, by men who grub for gold,
‘Neath northern lights, on freezing nights, they huddle in cabins
So begins the best poem Robert Service never wrote, “The Bishop
Who Ate His Boots” - or did he? That’s the mystery behind the plot in The
Klondike Ring, the latest instalment of the Spalding’s Adventure•Net
Willow and Rick Forster live a gypsy’s life, following their
parents all over the county from one video project to the next. As there
are a good many videos shot in Dawson in the run of the average year, it’s
no stretch to imagine that the Forster’s work might bring them here in their
converted school bus camper.
The kids soon meet a Dawson youngster named Casey, who becomes
their guide through a fast paced series of Klondike adventures: gold panning,
rafting, running from a bear. During the panning, Willow discovers an antique
ring and sets out to learn the story behind it. While avoiding the bear,
Rick finds some poetry scribbled on wall paper and stuffed into a crack in
an old cabin. Could it be a lost work of Robert Service?
Rick and Willow have to find the answers behind their mysterious
artifacts while at the same time preventing the theft of the possible Service
manuscript by the bogus new special events coordinator at Parks Canada.
The Spaldings researched this book most thoroughly while they
were in residence at Berton House in the summer of 2002. They managed to
pack just about everything they learned into 141 pages. They have scenes
related to just about everything one can do in Dawson in the summer, as well
as material from other seasons. The tale behind the ring is adapted from
an actual local story they heard. Service never did write about Bishop Bompas,
but Andrea and David wondered why he wouldn’t have (it’s perfect Service
material) and composed a pretty fair pastiche in his honour.
The Adventure•Net series offers more than just stories. There
about a dozen sidebar pages filled with information about the Klondike, information
that is used in the story,. In addition, the Spaldings have assembled web
links to go with each of the history and culture sections. I can’t vouch
for all of them, but one is to our school’s website and links to a history
page I wrote when I assembled the material for that a few years ago.
The Klondike Ring is a good story for the age 7 to 14
crowd at which it is aimed. It’s not to hard to read, but not too easy, either.