Gold! by Jackie Kerin and Annie White
Ford Street Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781925804539.
(Ages: 6-10) Recommended. Gold! is an amusing true story about two pairs of brothers, one English and the other Canadian, and how they found a large nugget of gold on the Victorian goldfields. The story begins with the news of gold in Australia travelling around the world and people arriving in masses to search, dreaming of riches. The realities hit home for the four boys when they find the tiniest speck of gold and realise that the chances of striking their fortune are slim. While the book paints a fairly happy picture of the goldfields some of the hardships are gently portrayed: thieves, lack of food, lack of adequate sanitation, exposure to harsh weather conditions. But then one day, their luck changes . . . a huge nugget, as big as a leg of lamb. When they eventually leave the goldfields, a sequence of events leads them straight to England and to Queen Victoria, who exhibits their gold nugget at the Crystal Palace.
This is a fun, lively introduction for young readers to the gold rush and its impact. There are two pages of extra factual information at the end of the story that help to give differing perspectives and contextual information. The small paragraph about how the Dja Dja Wurrung people and land were affected by the gold rush is particularly important, as is the paragraph about how the Chinese miners were treated. Other information includes more about the digging for gold process, about the nugget of gold itself and about the historical people within the story (Governor Barkly, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria).
The watercolour illustrations were inspired by the goldfield artists of the mid-nineteenth century and paint a vivid picture of the landscape and the living conditions of the miners. Teacher's notes are available. Themes: Victorian gold rush.