Teen adventurer Kitty Hawk’s dreams come true when she receives funding which allows her a chance to study the behavior and habits of humpback whales in waters off the coast of Alaska. Aboard her trusty De Havilland Beaver, Kitty observes and documents information about the whales from the air. The altitude gives her more than a bird’s eye view of the whales, though. When she spots a suspicious boat she fears may be carrying stolen Yukon gold, she stops to investigate – and gets swept away in a conspiracy stretching all the way back to the gold rush itself.
The story begins a bit slowly – Kitty’s whale-watching venture, while fascinating, doesn’t translate to text with a lot of power and excitement. The early chapters are peppered with flashbacks, which also slowed the story and muddled the timeline. Once Kitty becomes involved in the gold theft scheme, the author’s ability to lace history and fact in with the story becomes a lot more engrossing. As Kitty traverses the territory so long ago walked by hopeful miners, she learns a bit of the area’s history from an unlikely source.
The timing during which I read this book couldn’t have been more perfect. I read the last page aboard a cruise ship sailing the inner passage on my way to Juneau. Like Kitty, I saw humpback whales (from a boat rather than plane, though) and later had the pleasure of taking a train up through White Pass. I enjoyed having some background and a little bit of fantasy about the area on my visit. Young readers interested in Alaska and the history of the gold rush would enjoy the balance of history and fiction in the story.
A man threatens others at gun point. No shots are fired.
Men drink beer around a campfire.