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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Review: By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman

TITLE: By the Great Horn Spoon!
AUTHOR: Sid Fleischman 
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
PUBLICATION DATE: April 30, 1998 (first published 1963)
FORMAT: Paperback, 224 pages
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Juvenile Fiction
ISBN: 9780316286121
In this rollicking adventure set during the California Gold Rush, Jack's aunt is forced to sell her beloved mansion to meet her debts. She is still unable to raise enough money to pay her creditors, and twelve-year-old Jack goes to California in search of gold to help her. Joined by his trusty butler, Praiseworthy, Jack finds adventure and trouble at every turn. Will Jack strike gold in San Francisco or come home empty-handed?
This new edition features illustrations by Brett Helquist.


I read this book aloud to my children. It won the 1972 George C. Stone Center for Children's Books Recognition of Merit Award.

This is a fantastic adventure story that is set in 1849 during the time of the California Gold Rush. It features an orphaned 12 year-old boy named Jack Flagg, who lives with his aunt, Arabella, in Boston. In order to save the family from financial ruin and force the sale of the family’s estate, Jack sets out to strike a fortune in California. Accompanied by the family’s butler, Praiseworthy, the two set off to purchase their tickets to sail aboard a ship. Unfortunately, their money to pay for their passage is stolen and they must stow-away on the ship. They work off their passage by stoking the boiler with coal. One of the passengers has his map marking the site of gold stolen, and Jack and Praiseworthy devise an ingenious method of ferreting out the thief.

Jack and Praiseworthy encounter one obstacle after another, but they are unswerving in their dedication to complete their mission. They make a great team! I loved seeing the change in their relationship over time from butler/master to more of a father/son dynamic. Praiseworthy really surprised me with his cleverness, and my kids and I laughed on many occasions. It was also really interesting to see what life was like as a gold miner.

If you are looking for a funny adventure story to enjoy with your kids, I highly recommend this book!

#10 for my Monthly Mix-up Mania: 2013 to 2015 Edition    


  1. I miss the days of reading these fun stories to my son, but will admit my guilty pleasure of still reading them myself with I come across a good one. Thanks for sharing today :)

    1. My pleasure, Denise! You are right - kid's books are NOT just for kids ;)


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