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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Klondike Gold

Reviewed: October 31, 2005
By: Alice Provensen
Publisher: Simon and Shuster
40 pages, $24.95

I have very few quibbles with this retelling of the Klondike story for the 5 to 10 year old age bracket. One of them would be on the flyleaf, where the editors have recorded the discovery of gold as taking place in 1897. The author gives the correct year in the book.

The other would be her idea of the waterfront spread that greeted stampeders when they arrived in 1898. Since Berton’s Klondike Quest was one of her cited reference books, she saw enough photos to know better than to have a city hall at that time (not until 1902) or to put it in the same building with the jail, the post office and the mining recorder’s office.

Aside from that, the book does a pretty good job of telling the Klondike story.

Provensen’s tale is loosely based on the the actual experiences of a stampeder named Bill Howell, who abandoned his job in a dry goods store in Boston and went with a friend to seek his fortune in the Klondike, which he soon learned was not even part of the United States (full marks for that, Alice).

Provensen’s layout for the book is interesting. Bill’s and Joe’s story is told in pictures on the top half of each two page spread, with six lines of full width text just below that on each page. The bottom section of each spread is given over to illustrations showing a more general account of the rush.

For instance, for the spread showing the Bonanza Creek valley, the top section shows a panorama of many workings and people doing a variety of mining activities. The text talks about Bill’s and Joe’s experiences. The bottom strip shows a cross section of the gold bearing land, the disposition of claims along a creek, and several pieces of mining equipment. along with brief explanations.

The end result is an enjoyable little book which does justice to its subject at a level its audience should be able to grasp.

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