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By the Great Horn Spoon!

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  5,700 ratings  ·  509 reviews
For fans of the I Survived series, this classic rollicking adventure about the California Gold Rush and one determined twelve-year-old has sold nearly a million copies!
When Jack's aunt is forced to sell her beloved mansion but is still unable to raise enough money to pay her debts, the twelve-year-old goes to California in search of gold to help her. Joined by his trusty b
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 28th 1988 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published 1963)
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Joe Baptist The main idea of the book is that, even when you face difficulties in life, keeping a positive outlook and looking for ways to help others will lead t…moreThe main idea of the book is that, even when you face difficulties in life, keeping a positive outlook and looking for ways to help others will lead to success.(less)
Wilhelmina So, some people like to read books with NO "Hardcore Fighting". It is also a very well written book!

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,700 ratings  ·  509 reviews

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Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My son had to read this when he was in 5th grade and I read it at the same time. We both loved this. I think it was one of the best books he had to read in elementary school. They were learning about the California gold rush and this was a great depiction of that time.
Angie Thompson
I don't know how on earth you can combine serious history with laugh-out-loud humor and make it work, but this book pulled it off! And somehow, even though it came right to the brink of over-the-top, it never quite crossed that line. The very last scene, which was 100% believable, was also the one that made me laugh hardest!

Praiseworthy (oh, goodness, that name!) was an incredible character--and not always a predictable one! It was hard to tell sometimes whether his opinions were born out of un
I loved this book so much!!!! I'm in awe of the author's masterful skill with clever and entertaining humor; flawless, complex plot; vivid, colorful, crisp writing; lifelike setting and characters; rich, realistic and natural historical detail; hilarious action sequences; and compelling, well-developed characters. This is a tale full of engaging adventure and laugh-out-loud wit, and I felt like I was right there with the tenacious heroes through each obstacle and victory.

Jack and Praiseworthy a
Travis Bughi
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in elementary school, and I remember it being one of the few required-reading books that I actually enjoyed.

Side rant - I have such a love/hate relationship with required reading. On the outside, I like the idea of timeless classics and intriguing reads being read by students who'd otherwise would never have heard of them. However, while I was in school, I loathed such assignments with a passion. They always got in the way of the books I actually wanted to read. End rant.

Bambi Moore
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book about the California gold rush. This book has so many clever twists and turns and many good laughs! It fit perfectly in our history studies and kept the kids age 7-13 interested the entire time.
Jolanthe Erb
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Cute and fun read aloud (or reader) for kids. Each chapter is a short story in itself but part of the overall story, making it great as a read aloud. Takes place during the California gold rush time and the journey of a young boy and his butler as they travel from Boston to California to strike it rich.
Stefan Hull
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5⭐️ for audiobook version. This was a delightful adventure with golden nuggets of virtue strewn throughout.
Luisa Knight
This book is definitely going on my recommendations list!

You can't go wrong with a story when you put these elements together - you know it will spell comedic adventure for sure! 1) A morally upstanding tween boy who runs away in order to save his Aunt from having to sell her mansion. 2) A sophisticated butler who goes along with him, who is of course named Praiseworthy, and who always dons a proper top hat and walks with a gentleman's cane. 3) Put them, of all places, in the Wild West, specific
Really enjoyable historical adventure for kids, featuring a plucky, wide eyed boy protagonist and his resourceful, indomitably hopeful butler. Highly episodic, which makes for good chapter by chapter bedtime reading, with clever plot surprises, fun characters, and a nicely realized historical setting.

Also nicely captures something of the spirit of the Gold Rush beyond mere naked greed (although there are plenty of characters motivated entirely by that); a kind of kids’ version of Frederick Jack
Josh Hull
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We listened to the Audio Book version as a family. It was delightfully narrated and voice-acted.

This story gave a real sense for the adventure, futility and dangers of the gold rush days. The historical setting was really fun.

The writing was very balanced with enough details to educate you about the time it was set in, and plenty of story to make it come alive.

The character Praiseworthy was a delightful example of how to move forward when things don’t go your way. While not always realistic,
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
1/25/2020 * 4.5 🌟
We read this as a family read-aloud years ago when our daughter was in the fourth grade and remembered we all liked it but had forgotten the details. This time I enjoyed both the story and this Full Cast Audio version from our library. It was excellent.
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was such a fun little read, and I can't wait to let the kids in on the fun. I listened to it on audio, which was done by Full Cast Audio. It was one of the best audio experiences I've had so far.
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school
Amazing gold rush book!!!
Just imagine a proper butler following his young "master" across the country to dig for gold during the great California Gold Rush. If you're anything like me, you're probably wondering how that could possibly make a good story.

Much to my surprise, it not only made a good story, it made an excellent story.

The more I've thought about it (I finished it last week) the more I love it.

Praiseworthy is the butler and he is absolutely one of the most delightful characters I've ever encountered. His y
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Ah the sixties! Growing up in those days, television was full of cowboy series like Rawhide (with a very young Clint Eastwood), Bonanza, Gunsmoke and many more. Moving into the seventies, the trend was for "pioneer" series like Little House on the Prairie and Grizzly Adams. This book, written in 1963, fits nicely with that trend, and was one of the few my dyslexic brother bought and read voluntarily. I remember reading it when he first got it from Scholastic Book Services, and I also remember th ...more
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-for-kids
I only read this book thanks to my fascination with the illustrator Noelle Stevenson and her revealing on Tumblr that this is one of her childhood favorites, and a kind of desert-island book. I didn't really start reading good children's literature until after high school, and even then I leaned towards the surreal/absurd (Daniel Pinkwater) or the emo/tragic (Jacqueline Woodson) or the sensitive/profound (could refer to Woodson, also Joan Bauer) but never was drawn to books that were simply FUN. ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is pure nostalgia for me. My 4th grade teacher read it to us when we were studying the California Gold Rush, and it's stuck with me ever since. My aunt and I visited Sutter's Mill this New Year's on the way to Nevada City because she had never been before. I've been thinking about revisiting By the Great Horn Spoon! for a while now, and it just so happened to be sitting on a book shelf in the visitor center's gift shop-- Hurrah!

The story. A Boston boy named Jack and his butler Praisewo
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That an amazingly fun children's story about the gold rush! This book has adventures at sea and in the California diggings! It was really wonderful, and our whole family enjoyed it as I read it.

Jack's aunt cares for him and his two sisters, but she is starting to become poor. Jack decides to run off, but the family's longtime butler Praiseworthy has decided to accompany him on the trip, as he feels responsible for him. They set along on a ship to go around from Boston to San Francisco, which ta
Katie Fitzgerald
Jack, a young boy whose parents have died, lives in Boston with his Aunt Arabella. When Aunt Arabella loses all her money, Jack and the family butler, Praiseworthy, sail off to California to seek their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Though Praiseworthy is a bit out of place amongst the other miners, his cleverness and ingenuity at every turn ensure that both he and Jack survive their adventure and have a great time in the process.

This book got off to a slow start for me, and at first, I wasn't sure
Will G
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The movie was great, the book was great, the plot was great. And get this... everything was great
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-the-crazies
listened to the full cast audiobook with L&C ... great fun in the car! As soon as it was over C asked, “can you start it over from the beginning?!” ...more
Julie Mabus
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Audio: great middle grade book about the California Gold Rush. Lots of humor. Kids and I both enjoyed the book immensely.
Emily Z
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We all loved this story of adventure, friendship, family and love. We didn't want our time with Praiseworthy and Jack to end. Praiseworthy is a new favorite character.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked it when they were stoawase
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great little read about the Gold Rush. The kids loved the the first half of the adventure the most.
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh I just loved this one. The full cast recording is a must. J lost interest at some point and so I continued merrily on my own. I'm guessing on a reread she'll jump in, she just has her head too full of other stories right now and the whimsical sunny frolics just around the corner.
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This historical fiction book is gripping and full of adventure! I loved the twists and turns that the characters took.
Wendy Tico
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this aloud to my adventure loving kids. It was a hit! Both the humor and camaraderie of the butler (Praiseworthy) and his 12 yr old charge (Master Jack) appealed to them.

The two run away from Boston together to try to repair the family fortune by striking it rich in California. They have many adventures as they travel by sea through to the gold mines humorously handling predatory encounters along the way. The graceful handling of adversity and finding silver linings is a common plot them
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book brought back 4th grade living in California. Love the fun story of two stowaways trying to seek fortune in the time of the gold rush in California.
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ellie, jacob, mom
Listening to this audio in the car..krb 8/9/17

Excellent book! Praiseworthy is one of those characters that inspires you to be a better person. I loved his attitude and ingenuity. Best book we've ever read about the gold rush, you really felt as if you were a part of it. This audio had many different actors for each character and was very well put together. Definitely a read again book...krb 8/18/17
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As a children's book author Sid Fleischman felt a special obligation to his readers. "The books we enjoy as children stay with us forever -- they have a special impact. Paragraph after paragraph and page after page, the author must deliver his or her best work." With almost 60 books to his credit, some of which have been made into motion pictures, Sid Fleischman can be assured that his work will m ...more

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