Author: Davi Meissner and Kim Richardson
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press (October, 2013)
Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
Interest: age 9-14
Living in a BC mining town, this book was of immediate interest to me and my kids. Even better – it kept our interest as we sat on the edge of our seats, frantically flipping pages, through the entire adventure.
Call of the Klondike is the true story of Marshall Bond and Stanley Pearce’s trip from Seattle, WA to Dawson City, NWT in search of gold. It is told through a combination of straight narrative, letters home, diary entries, newspaper articles, and photos. The authors have obviously done their homework and the addition of Bond and Pearce’s voice provides authenticity, although some of the language is cumbersome. These devices also break up the narrative, making for a difficult read a loud and decreasing some of the tension.
Details such as the list of supplies in the typical “Yukon Outfit” (with enough food to last a year!) give a real feel for the hardship of life during the gold rush without slowing down the story. And the hardships they endured were tremendous! After the arduous trip over sea, across mountain passes, and the down the Yukon RIver, Bond, Pearce and their companions (including several dogs, a few horses that survived the journey – many more did not – and the neighbour who tented next to their cabin who was none other than Jack London!) had to survive a winter in Dawson City before their search for gold could really begin. The challenges they faced in finding their fortune were numerous; cold, poverty, loneliness, and being one year late to stake claim on the best land.
Call of the Klondike is a great book for middle grade boys. By the time they are done reading the adventure, they will have a new appreciation for the comforts of everyday life. They will have also been educated on mining, mineral extraction, geography, and history without even knowing it. A great addition to the classroom bookshelf.