CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 10 . . . . January 21, 2005
Barkerville Gold is an intriguing book which sparks interest in historic Barkerville in British Columbia. The author creates an exciting mystery intertwined with interesting facts about this gold mining town. Readers follow Rusty, Katie, and Sheila as they investigate two look-a-like prospectors who seem bent on finding Three Finger Evans' stolen gold. The trio must work fast to uncover the mystery before an ancient curse exacts its toll on the son of a new found friend.
The plot of Barkerville Gold holds the reader's interest as Rusty works to fit together the various clues. Unlike some mysteries where the resolution depends on a key fact being kept secret from the reader for most of the story, this book provides enough information for sleuths to puzzle out a probable solution. The characters are accessible as well. I particularly like the way Campbell Gaetz creates a less than perfect protagonist in Rusty. This is a boy who loves history, is good at drawing, and uses his artist's eye to notice important details in his surroundings. However, he is clumsy, is last to be chosen for teams in gym class, and daydreams so much he gets on his patient grandma's nerves in record time. With differing strengths in Katie and Sheila, most young readers will be able to identify with at least one of the central figures.
With ample leading between the text, an intriguing mystery to uncover, and a great choice of setting, independent readers will enjoy Barkerville Gold. Teachers will also find this book an excellent choice for a novel study or literature circle that leads into an in depth study of Barkerville and the gold rush.
Julie Hunt is a teacher-librarian in West Vancouver, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.