Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine
Rip-roaring historical adventure of brothers in a gold rush.
No reviews yet.Add your rating
No reviews yet.Add your rating
Common Sense is a nonprofit organization. Your purchase helps us remain independent and ad-free.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine, Caroline Starr Rose's (May B.) first story featuring boys as central characters, is an old-fashioned, rip-roaring adventure set in the Klondike Gold Rush in the last years of the 19th century. As 11-year-old narrator Jasper and his 16-year-old brother, Melvin, flee their abusive father in Washington and join hordes of gold-seekers flocking north, they find many dangers, along with tall tales, colorful characters, and quite a few surprises. There are some mature elements: gun-toting scoundrels kidnap (and accidentally shoot) a character, and since their mother died some years earlier, the boys' father has been a violent drunk, drinking away all the money Melvin gives him to support the family. (On a lighter note, a traveling aristocrat -- based on a real historic person -- gets his gold by selling Champagne to the miners.) Grifters, con artists, and scammers abound, as the boys learn the hard way, but so do kind people, especially when things are most hopeless. Strong character, determination, loyalty between brothers, and paying attention when Mama taught you to do laundry all play an important, positive role.
There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the Story?
JASPER AND THE RIDDLE OF RILEY'S MINE finds its 11-year-old narrator and his 16-year-old brother fleeing an abusive home situation and heading for Alaska in 1897. Like everyone else on the quest, they've got gold fever, dreaming of incredible riches or at least enough money to buy food on a regular basis. And like just about everyone else, they hope to discover the legendary Riley's Mine, which supposedly made Riley so rich he abandoned it for the first person to decipher his odd clues. Things get off to a bad start when one lens of Jasper's glasses gets broken, leaving him with only one good eye, and soon get more perilous as bad weather and worse characters come on the scene. But quick thinking, brotherly bonds, an enterprising spirit, and Mama's washboard all serve the boys well.
Is It Any Good?
Caroline Starr Rose's fast-paced historical adventure finds two brothers seeking their fortune in the Klondike, with tall tales, deadly weather, gun-toting villains, and the kindness of strangers. There's lots of period detail and colorful characters, and a strong moral compass that keeps the boys from going astray. Eleven-year-old Jasper's narrative voice is heavy on what now would be considered poor grammar (especially "ain't"), but there's nothing wrong with his powers of description, as here, where he and Melvin encounter the first nuns Jasper's ever seen:
"Mel taps my head, a reminder I'm to take my cap off, too. He acts like this is the most regular thing he's ever seen, three ladies dressed up like bats, tugging at a boat frozen in the Yukon River."
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how the Alaskan Gold Rush is portrayed in Japer and the Riddle of Riley's Mine. What other gold rushes have you hear about? How did finding gold someplace change people's lives -- both the ones who lived there and the ones who made it their destination?
Jasper and Melvin often have a hard time figuring out whether people are telling them the truth, especially when they're talking about gold. What clues do you use to tell if people are telling you the truth -- and, if you think they're not, are they trying to deceive you, or do they believe the malarkey themselves?
Have you ever been to Alaska and the Yukon? How do you think things have changed there since the events in this story?
- Author: Caroline Starr Rose
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
- Publication date: February 7, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 18
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
Our Editors Recommend
P.K. Pinkerton and the Deadly Desperados: P.K. Pinkerton, Book 1
Tween boy hunts killers in funny, violent Wild West saga.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Classic novel grapples with moral question of slavery.
Tense adventure as dogsled run becomes race for survival.
For kids who love adventure and historical fiction
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate