I was recently asked to review Tunnel of Gold from Susan K. Marlow and Kreger Publications, the second book in Ms. Marlow's Goldtown Books. I know very little about the Gold Rush era, and I love books, so was eager to see what I thought of this series. Last year for my girls' birthdays, we went gold mining in the North Carolina mountains with my parents, and it was a lot of fun - as well as hard work!
The Goldtown Adventure books are written for ages 8-12. They're not very long; Tunnel of Gold, 2nd in the series, has 144 pages and 18 chapters. We were able to read 2 chapters per day without anyone complaining. This was a great read-aloud! Every chapter makes you want to read the next one to see what's going to happen. Even my 5 year old boy, who usually wanders off to do something else while I'm reading "long books," stayed and listened, and asked if we were going to read it again tomorrow. You can click here for a PDF sample of the book. We didn't need the first book to make sense of this one, although after reading this one, we want to go back and read the first story, too.
I liked Jem's character very much. He is the oldest of two children, and now has his cousin Nathan living with him. Although he's not above some teasing, he does his best to set a good example, to be kind to others, to think before he speaks. He wasn't perfect, but he showed regret when he knew he'd done something wrong. I'd say he's a typical young man who lacks judgement and learns the hard way sometimes, but he *did* learn from his mistakes. He had great respect for his father, and was respectful to other adults, whether he liked them or not. He had to make some tough decisions in this book. He stood up to bullies and protected his Chinese friend, even when the odds were against him. He stopped selling firewood to his best customer, as his way of supporting his father in an issue involving the mine, knowing he would lose most of his income.
Ms. Marlow offeres some nice resources to go along with these books on her site. There is a free study guide for Tunnel of Gold available, including a timeline of the Gold Rush, a recipe for Cook's donuts, historical information and more - click here for the PDF. She also has lapbooks available for purchase; click here if you'd like to take a look.
Tunnel of Gold is available from Susan K. Marlow and Kreger Publications for $7.99. You may also purchase both books in the series for $13.99 and save a little money. She has two other series of books available: Circle C Adventures, for ages 8-12, and Circle C Beginnings, early readers for ages 6-9.
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