For A Speck Of Gold is Donna Getzinger’s second historical novel for children, the first being The Picture Wagon.
A fourth-grade teacher in California, Getzinger's
fascination with mining history, especially the Gold Rush
era, began when she was a young girl and continues to this
In For A Speck Of Gold is based on the historical Gold Rush era in California, readers experience the harsh reality of the time through the eyes of
twelve-year-old Robert Palmerston of Hanover, Massachusetts.
Robbie is forced to become the man of his house when his father becomes swept up in the Gold Rush Fever. Abandoning his family for a lofty dream of finding riches, Justin Palmerston leaves for California with his friend Ted. Robbie
takes on work in a desperate effort to support the remaining children;
his mother is pregnant and unable to help much. The fact that many other families
are in the same situation makes it hard to find a good job.
Robbie resents his father’s thoughtless venture, yet when he discovers that
he is seriously injured and unable to return home, Robbie stands up to the task. Traveling alone by ship, enduring all kinds of weather and hardships, he arrives to find a worse situation than he expected.
This emotional tale shows the reality of the personal sacrifice, death, violence, greed, horror, pain, undignified poverty, filth, stupidity, and immense wealth of the Gold Rush era,
as well as revealing the unbridled racism against Oriental immigrants.
Getzinger is building quite a name for herself as an author.
She has already won several awards for her work and has written several other books
including Saving Christmas Spirit, LA’s Best Sketch Comedy, The Wisdom of Teen Chat, and the photo-anthology Couching. She has also written
nonfiction works on five classical musicians - Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Wagner and Brahms – for children.
For A Speck Of Gold (148–pages) is appropriate for grades 2 through 7, or ages 7
to 13. Young readers will love
Robbie's heroism. He grows beyond himself, saves others and lives righteously. This young boy takes on the weight of the world and thwarts sneaky plots by those who would do his family harm. The sacrifice that Daniel had to make for his best friend, Robbie,
is emotional. Young readers will feel proud of the choices the two boys make.