Jason's Gold

By: 

Will Hobbs

Number of Pages: 

240

Minimum grade level: 

5th

Jason is selling newspapers on a corner in New York City when it happens. He shouts the headlines to the wild crowd in front of him. Everyone wants a paper. One man pays a dollar for the five-cent paper Jason is selling. He doesn't have time to wait for the change. Jason waits until he has one paper left then he runs from the crowd to read the details under the fantastic headline. A steam ship sailed into Seattle harbor with two tons of gold. It is July 1897 and the rush to mine gold from the Yukon has begun. Klondike Fever has struck.

Jason had spent the past ten months traveling across the country from Seattle to reach New York City. He left his older brothers to prove he could make it on his own for a year.

But now with gold being found in Alaska Jason decides to return to Seattle even though the year is not up. His dad left him $500 as an inheritance-Jason decides he will use the money to go north. But he will have to persuade his sensible brothers to let him use the money. Jason has a plan, until he reaches Seattle and finds that his brothers have left him a letter explaining that they took his inheritance to look for gold. Jason has no more money, but he is determined to catch-up and help his brothers stake a claim.

Jason stows away on a ship to Stagway, Alaska where he meets prospectors, gangster sand merchants. He even makes friends with a man who becomes a famous author and writes about the North (Jack London).

Getting to Alaska is just the beginning-getting to Dawson 500 miles down the Yukon and the gold before the river freezes over is almost impossible. Getting stuck in the middle surely means death.

Discussion questions

  • When Jason first meets Kid Barker aboard the Yakima he doesn't trust him. How does Kid try to gain Jason's trust?
  • Why do you think Kid believes Jason will join his gang? Both Jason and Kid are thieves-what did Jason steal? Would you have stood up to Kid or would you have joined his gang until the Yakima stopped at Skagway?
  • Were people prepared for all the dangers traveling to the Yukon and goldfields? How does this affect their behavior?
  • There are many dangers on the way to the gold fields. Name some of the dangers the Klondikers faced to get to the gold fields.
  • What was your reaction to the Klondiker's behavior as they tried to get over Dead Horse Trail? Why do you think people behaved the way they did? Were you surprised by their behavior?
  • The goldrush seemed to bring out the worst or the best in people. Think of some examples in the book. Why do you think people acted as they did? Do situations exist today where people are pushed beyond their normal limits?
  • Jason seemed to meet up with Jack London when he most needed a friend. Why do you think London helped Jason out so many times?
  • Other people helped Jason on his journey too. One person sites the "Golden Rule" as the code of the Yukon Order of Pioneers. Which people follow this rule in the Yukon? Who are they? Why are they able to help people when others can't?
  • Jason saves Charlie's life when his family leaves him to die. Did this suprise you when his uncle left him to die with Jason?
  • Charlie also helps Jason even though he is recovering from the loss of his leg. How does he do this? Think of several ways that Charlie and Jason help each other survive the long winter.
  • Would Jason have survived being alone for the entire winter without Charlie? What is the longest period of time you have been completely by yourself?
  • Knowing what you do about the Gold Rush would you take the same risks the Klondikers did to reach the gold fields? Why or why not?

If you liked this book try

  • Far North by Will Hobbs
  • Brian's Winter by Gary Paulsen
  • Sasquatch by Roland Smith

Snacks

Trail mix, jerky, dried fruit, ice cream (frozen desserts to make you shiver)

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.