Twelve year old Jem (Jeremiah) Coulter is growing up in California during the Gold Rush. As a boy on the verge of manhood he is charged with many responsibilities around the house. He enjoys the times he gets to pan for gold, but he also takes his responsibilities of caring for the animals seriously. Goldtown, like any settlement that sprung up during the Gold Rush, is a colorful and sometimes dangerous place to live. Jem’s father is the sheriff and Jem is proud of how he works to maintain order in Goldtown.  When Jem’s father is called away for two weeks on business, Jem is left in charge as the man of the family. Jem is determined to make his father proud – even when a wolf threatens the family herd, an injured stranger comes into their family and Jem’s own horse and his Pa’s good rifle are stolen. How will he solve all these problems on his own? And what kind of danger will he face doing it?

Positives: A great story filled with just the right amount of mystery and danger as well as some fun humor that keep the reader entertained. The historical aspects of this book seem to be well researched and provide a great backdrop to the adventure. I enjoyed the characters and felt like I could picture each one. I appreciated Jem’s character in particular as he seemed so real -a young boy who knows what is right, but still struggles to always make the right decision.

Negatives: None

Talking Points:  As I mentioned above, I enjoyed Jem’s character as we saw his inner struggle to do what he knew to be right. What 12 year old boy doesn’t struggle with this? What person of any age? Talk with your kids about their struggles. How do they handle situations and temptations that arise? Do they have Scripture verses that they go to? Do they pray? How do we as parents handle these things? Encourage kids that while they will always face temptation, they can stand strong! Arm them with verses to fight with in moments of weakness and offer them grace when they are weak (I Cor. 10:13, James 1, Heb. 2:18, Heb. 4:15, Gal. 6:1).

Age Level: 5-10 years of age. These books will have a great appeal to young boys!

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