By the Great Horn Spoon!

By the Great Horn Spoon! is a captivating children’s book written by Sid Fleischman. Published in 1963, this adventurous tale takes readers on a thrilling journey set during the California Gold Rush of 1849. Embark on an unforgettable escapade alongside young Jack and his faithful butler, Praiseworthy, as they encounter countless obstacles and discover the true meaning of friendship, loyalty, and perseverance.

The Storyline

The story revolves around twelve-year-old Jack and his butler, Praiseworthy. Jack’s family faces dire financial circumstances after his aunt’s financial investment in a gold mine fails. Determined to help his aunt, Jack runs away and heads to California in search of gold with Praiseworthy right by his side.

Throughout their tumultuous journey, Jack and Praiseworthy meet a vast array of colorful characters and experience both thrilling and perilous adventures. From navigating treacherous waters on a paddle steamer, to outwitting villainous gamblers, the duo’s journey is filled with excitement, danger, and unexpected friendships.

Awards, Criticisms, and Praise

Upon its publication, By the Great Horn Spoon! received widespread acclaim and captured the hearts of children and adults alike. The book was consistently praised for its engaging storytelling, vivid descriptions, and memorable characters.

Despite not receiving any major literary awards, the novel garnered praise from both readers and critics. Its historical accuracy in depicting the California Gold Rush, coupled with its heartwarming themes, made it a beloved addition to children’s literature.

The book’s enduring popularity has led to numerous reprints and translations, ensuring that future generations of readers can enjoy this timeless adventure.

Memorable Characters

Jack: The young protagonist, Jack, is brave, resourceful, and determined. He embarks on the grand adventure to California, showcasing his unwavering loyalty to his family.

Praiseworthy: Jack’s loyal servant and butler, Praiseworthy, is not your typical servant. With his quick thinking and knack for getting them out of trouble, he proves to be an invaluable companion on their journey.

Bigelow: A burly, good-hearted cook on the Belle of the Golden West paddle steamer. He befriends Jack and Praiseworthy, providing them with guidance and support during their voyage to California.

Comfort Pease: The witty and sharp-tongued passenger on the Belle of the Golden West, Comfort Pease adds humor and a touch of feistiness to the story. Her distinctive personality makes her a memorable character.

Miss Letitia Peabody: A delightful and kind-hearted woman who plays a significant role in the story. Miss Peabody becomes an important figure in Jack’s life and provides him with guidance and support when he needs it most.


By the Great Horn Spoon! is a captivating adventure that entertains readers with its thrilling narrative, well-developed characters, and heartwarming themes. Sid Fleischman’s ability to transport readers to the California Gold Rush era showcases his talent as a skilled storyteller.

So, grab a copy of By the Great Horn Spoon! and immerse yourself in the exciting world of Jack and Praiseworthy as they navigate through extraordinary challenges, all for the love of family and the pursuit of a better life.

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