IMG_8145You know, I’d never go into the library and pick a book off the shelf for the middle school set, but I do like to read the books that Bookworm reads independently for school so I can make sure he’s read and comprehended the story and that he can answer questions about it.  Plus, reading the same books lets us talk about them more fully.

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By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleishman was a book I’d never pick up on my own, but it was a fun story to read.

Twelve year old Jack lives with his two sisters, aunt, and their butler after his parents die.  The trouble is that his aunt is only months away from losing her home because she doesn’t have enough money.  Jack comes up with the hair brain scheme to sail from Boston to California to take advantage of the Gold Rush and find enough gold to help his aunt save her house.

The butler, Praiseworthy, learns of Jack’s plan and insists that he go with Jack so that he won’t be traveling alone.  They sneak away and board a boat, but they board as stowaways because they were robbed before the trip.

One obstacle after another is thrown in their path, but Praiseworthy is surprisingly sharp on his feet and can find a way to solve every mystery and to escape every danger presented them.  He is very quick-witted.  As a reader, I often tried (unsuccessfully) to figure out how Praiseworthy would get out of the next bind.  I loved this clever aspect of the book.

In addition, the story almost read like a tall tale, and it was a very good source of history about the Gold Rush.  I knew that most people didn’t leave California with a lot of gold, but this book put into perspective how much everything cost.  The prices of items were driven up to ridiculous amounts.  In fact, when Praiseworthy wants to wash his shirt, he’s told that all of the wash gets shipped to China and then shipped back because laundry is cheaper to do there.  Water is in short supply in California.

I enjoyed this book as did Bookworm.  I look forward to reading it again when PB & J Girl and Cuddle Bug reach this level.

4.5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

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