Our family actually enjoyed By the Great Horn Spoon so much that we’ve done it twice. We read it the first time a few years ago when my oldest was in first grade and I remember liking it then. He remembered enough of it that when it was time to host a party school book club, we decided to choose this book so that we could have a Gold Rush Party. I think he enjoyed it much more in fourth grade than in first and the party was a huge success.
The Great Horn Spoon Details
Title: By the Great Horn Spoon
Author: Sid Fleischman
Publication Year: 1963
Age Group: Mid Elementary, Late Elementary
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Comments: It takes talent to write a book that is simultaneously utterly ridiculous and completely believable. The idea that a twelve year old boy would travel for months to make a fortune to save his family and that his butler would just decide to go along with him is totally implausible. However, the story is fantastic. The scrapes that the clever-witted butler gets them out of with his fast and creative thinking is delightful.
My kids definitely all enjoyed this story. I doubt they understood fully what was going on, but even the preschooler and kindergartner were entertained while listening. Ultimately, it is an adventure story with little conflicts that pop up and get resolved in fun ways. Whenever you study the gold rush or California history, I highly recommend reading this novel to make the learning come alive for your kids. Feel free to check out the activities we did with our Gold Rush party to extend the fun even more.
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