Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “I Witness: Hard Gold: The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859: A Tale of the Old West” as Want to Read:
I Witness: Hard Gold: The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859: A Tale of the Old West
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

I Witness: Hard Gold: The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859: A Tale of the Old West

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  199 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Early Whitcomb's family needs a miracle. Their Iowa farm has been in the family for generations, but a long drought has withered their savings and left them in debt. Meanwhile, the great Chicago and Northwestern Railroad wants their land, and if the Whitcombs can't pay their loans, the local banker, Judge Fuslin, will foreclose and sell the farm as his own. Early's uncle ( ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Disney-Hyperion
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave BarryMatilda by Roald DahlThe Glitter Trap by Barbara BraunerThe Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamilloThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
5th Grade Summer Reading List
8th out of 59 books — 11 voters
Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? by AviNothing But the Truth by AviNo More Magic by AviThings That Sometimes Happen by AviDevil's Race by Avi
Best of Avi
64th out of 90 books — 5 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 348)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
I received this as a free download from Audiojukebox.

Avi does a wonderful job of bringing to life the midwest of the late 1850s. It's also an interesting tale of the Colorado Gold Rush (Pike's Peak or Bust!) that most of us never learned a lot about.

Early Whitcomb is a 14-year-old farm boy living with his mother, father, older brother, and an uncle, Jessie, who is only a few years older than he is. A railroad wants the land the Whitcomb farm is on and seems willing to try anything to force the
May 17, 2016 Will rated it it was ok
this book left you on a cliffhanger with no sequel, and just forgets about Lizzy and just lets Jesse run away.
Apr 15, 2015 Phil rated it liked it
This one started off well in typical Avi fashion with lots of rich detail, but it ended rather suddenly so that it felt more like half a book. It almost seemed as if Avi had started to write it as a book twice it's length and was told it had to be shorter, so just abruptly ended it. Having said this, it was still an entertaining read with a glimpse of what it felt to catch "gold fever."

I am slightly troubled (spoiler ahead) that the main supporting character and role model for the protagonist i
Dawson Miller
Mar 11, 2014 Dawson Miller rated it it was amazing
I love reading history, so I picked up this book. When I finished reading this book, I decided it was one of the better ones I have read in a while. The 1859 gold rush was a period in U.S. history I did not know much about, and this book made me want to read more about it. When I read this book, I didn't realize the characters were fictional, because I didn't read the author's letter at the start of the book. The farther I got into this book, the more I wanted to find out if Early would find Jes ...more
Oct 20, 2013 laurenpie rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens-older
A readable and informative novel for middle-grades, with interesting historical illustrations.

I really liked the tone of this novel. The protagonist, thirteen-year-old "Early," was thoughtful and likeable, and his struggles seemed fairly realistic to me.

The author didn't shy away from harder aspects of life in that era. For instance, though Early does have parents, he must also, as a matter of course, constantly obey his self-centered older brother. Early works very hard on the farm, knowing all
Mar 06, 2012 Amber rated it liked it
Early was a boy on a mission. This story of a young boy going across the country to find his Uncle Jesse was a well-written book. It is a very easy book for children to read and since Avi, who wrote “City of Orphans”, wrote it I can see his style of writing very clearly. How it is written is probably it’s best aspect to the book along with the main character and his journey to Cherry Creek.
“Hard Gold” is written mostly in a journal style of writing, which I thought made it a very child friendl
Steve Holden
Jun 13, 2015 Steve Holden rated it liked it
I read this as a quick departure from the thriller and mystery novels I often find myself involved in during the summer. The hope with this one was to find something to complement a pioneer unit and teaching standards with a nice read aloud that students will enjoy and find engaging. Although I enjoyed this book, this will not fit my need as I found this to be intended for older audiences than those I teach. However, I learned a bit more and enjoyed this historical fiction story.
Libby Ames
In late winter 1858, Early Whitcomb and his family were struggling to save their farm. After a dry year and poor harvest, their savings were barely enough to pay the mortgage. Threats from the bank were becoming more severe and financial ruin seemed inevitable. About this time, the farmers began to hear rumors of gold found out West at Pike’s Peak. Early’s Uncle Jesse is caught up in the gold fever and is sure that digging for gold will solve all their problems.

When Jesse disappears, Early joins
Susan Williams
An deft narrative in journal entry form of an adolescent boy's journey to the Colorado gold fields. Early's family is in dire financial trouble, their farm about to be seized by the lender. His uncle Jesse has left to find his fortune and rescue the family by looking for gold in Colorado.
Jesse is accused of killing a man before he left, and Early is determined to find him and clear his name, as well as help save the family from financial ruin.
Concise and well written, this is an interesting read
Mar 19, 2014 Boyd rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Early, who set out with a wagon train to get to his uncle in the Colorado gold mines. Troubles, dangers, and suspicion follow Early all the way west. Informative, fun, and great descriptive lead characters, this an enjoyable work of historical fiction.
Payton Jensen
Hard Gold was a pretty interesting book, considering I am not one for reading about history. We were actually learning about the Gold Rush in U.S. History while I was reading this book. I don't think I would read this again because of the fact that history doesn't interest me but it was a pretty good book.
Eileen Makoff
Feb 14, 2015 Eileen Makoff rated it really liked it
Another Avi: Beautifully written, compelling characters, and hard to put down. And yet that plot. Really? Like that would happen? Nope, sorry, don't buy it.
May 19, 2015 Aiyana rated it really liked it
I think that the book Hard Gold is a very wonderful interesting book with some exiting parts.personly I love the book Hard Gold. I think that the book is one of the many good books that I have read in the past that I have liked. I think that Avi is one of the best authors that I have read a book from.
Sep 27, 2015 Alice rated it liked it
Interesting children's book which helps paint a realistic picture of the frontier gold rush towns.
Aug 10, 2015 Jane rated it really liked it
This was a great audio book to listen to with my grandchildren.
May 21, 2015 Kai rated it it was ok
why did jesse not go back home with early?
May 21, 2015 Josh added it
it was good and intresting
Catherine Woodman
A great first person account of a boy who ventures Westward in order to help his family save their Iowa farm into gold country. What it is like, through the eyes of a teenager, how you needed to keep your wits about you, and how the boy grows into the man he is about to become, making the choices of a good woman over his family, to avoid the temptations of gold and succomb to the allure of natural beauty, and other wise pearls.
Jun 09, 2011 Julie rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
This book definitely has the feel of one written to be a part of a series, the "I Witness" History Series in particular. It didn't seem as richly imagined as some of Avi's other works. That said, it's an approachable way of introducing the subject of 1 of the 19th-c American gold rushes to children approximately 10-12 years old. I can't say that I loved the book, but it was a pleasant, interesting read.
Mar 24, 2012 Christy rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
Early Whitcomb's family needs a miracle. Their Iowa farm has been in the family for generations, but a long drought has withered their savings and left them in debt. Meanwhile, the great Chicago and Northwestern Railroad wants their land, and if the Whitcombs can't pay their loans, the local banker, Judge Fuslin, will foreclose and sell the farm as his own. Early's uncle (...more
Mar 01, 2010 Josh rated it really liked it
I really like the storyline of this book. It is about a family that is in debt and this is happening when a gold rush is going on in Colorado. So first his uncle goes out to Colorado to get gold to pay off the debt. But then his Nephew followed him to Colorado. Then thats when the real story begins and i did not want to put it down after he followed his brother there.
Apr 07, 2014 Kari rated it liked it
This was more of a 2.5 for me. I read this with a 4th grade reading group I helped with.
Oct 23, 2011 Jeremy rated it really liked it
Another one of those historical fiction books that completely shocked me! The difficult journey that many people took to discover gold is unbelievable. The book includes a gripping story that has the suspense that draws you through, but also the real life story of a family that is broken by its need for money for survival.
Aug 27, 2010 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
This is a cute book about the Colorado Gold Rush of 1859. Early's family is in trouble because of the drought, so his uncle (age 19, who has been raised as his brother) decides to go to Colorado and get enough gold to pay the mortgage. Early follows him out there. The book has a good moral and is really interesting.
Oct 26, 2012 Gina rated it liked it
This is a book for children - one of the "I Witness" books where the story is told in first person narrative from the perspective of a youth, in this case a 14-year-old boy. I enjoyed the book, only took one evening to read, and I will look forward to having my children read it when they're a little bit older.
Jen Ferry
Feb 10, 2013 Jen Ferry rated it really liked it
Early leaves the only home he's ever known in Iowa to follow his uncle Jesse who left in search of gold in Colorado save the family farm. On his journey he has to escape death, keep his secret, and plan how he's going to find Jesse...all while working on a wagon train and surviving on the trail.
Mary Louise Sanchez
Jun 21, 2012 Mary Louise Sanchez rated it really liked it
You are there each day as fourteen-year-old Early Wittcomb joins a wagon train headed to Colorado where his young uncle has found gold. The gold will help pay the mortgage on the family's Iowa farm. The primary sources, maps, and photographs make this time period come alive.
Apr 05, 2010 Hope rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 5th grade and higher
Recommended to Hope by: teacher
i think that this book is a very meaning book and you can learn alot about the 1859 gold rush of colorado
I read this for literture in school and i thought it was pretty meaningful to have a young boy go out and find his uncle like he did.
Jul 26, 2012 Briana rated it really liked it
Early ends up headed for gold digging area looking for his uncle. Instead he finds an unlikely friend & has some adventures. Rich with text features & clever quick story line makes it a nice read!
Sep 22, 2012 Betsy rated it liked it
This was a nice quick read about a young boy who runs away from home to help his best friend/uncle. I really enjoyed the story and how Avi weaved the facts into it seamlessly.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Only Opal
  • The Story of Science: Newton at the Center: Newton at the Center
  • Every Man for Himself: Ten Short Stories About Being a Guy
  • Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle
  • Beardance (Bearstone, #2)
  • Red Cap
  • Wild River
  • Piper Reed, The Great Gypsy (Piper Reed #2)
  • Colorado's Fourteeners: From Hikes to Climbs
  • If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge
  • Edgar Allan Poe's Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems
  • Long Road to Freedom (Ranger in Time #3)
  • The Case of the Deadly Desperados (The P.K Pinkerton Mysteries, #1)
  • Tutankhamen's Gift
  • Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln
  • Halloween
  • Train to Somewhere
  • Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy
Avi is a pen name for Edward Irving Wortis, but he says, "The fact is, Avi is the only name I use." Born in 1937, Avi has created many fictional favorites such as The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Nothing but the Truth, and the Crispin series. His work is popular among readers young and old.
More about Avi...

Share This Book