Cover image for Luke : 1849 - on the golden trail
Luke : 1849 - on the golden trail
Pryor, Bonnie.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow Junior Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
163 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.
In 1849 eleven-year-old Luke leaves his family's farm home in Iowa, accepts his uncle's offer of a chance for an education, and travels with his relative to Boston.
Reading Level:
700 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.9 4.0 40136.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.5 8 Quiz: 17634.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Luke Reed admires his father, a hardworking homesteader battling the harsh prairie lands of Iowa. Still, Luke, a talented artist, dreams of a different kind of life.

His father says that Luke's artwork is a waste of time, but Uncle Eli is more sympathetic. A trader of goods along the Santa Fe Trail, Eli has led an adventurous life. When an unexpected event frees Luke from the backbreaking work of the farm, he eagerly agrees to join his uncle on a trip to Boston.

As the pair travel east by horseback, ferry, and stagecoach, they see hordes of people going the other way. There's gold in California, so the rumor says. Before long, Luke and Uncle Eli are tempted to turn right around and join the rush west!

During the Gold Rush, dreamers of every kind flocked to California to make their fortunes. Luke's own journey, filled with excitement, discovery, and danger, is a memorable American Adventure.

Author Notes

Bonnie Pryor was born in California and raised in Spokane, Washington. She has lived in Ohio with her husband Robert and six children for the last 30 years. She has written 32 books, both picture books and novels for elementary age children. Her books include mysteries, family stories and historical fiction. Many of the family stories are loosely based on true family incidents and she often use her own children as characters in her books.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-6. Luke and his family homestead in a soddy on the Iowa prairie, barely managing to make ends meet. After a terrible storm and a prairie fire destroy the family's crops, Luke jumps at the chance to accompany his uncle, a wealthy trader, on a trip to Boston. The journey is filled with danger and adventure as they travel by horseback, ferry, and stagecoach, listening to rumors and speculation of gold in California. Because Luke never returns to his family, this novel feels like two separate stories sharing the same characters. The chapters set in Iowa are the strongest, with the harsh realities of prairie life serving as the backdrop for some potentially interesting characters. The journey chapters are informative, but Uncle Eli functions mostly as a plot device for transporting Luke across the country. Although not a first choice as historical fiction, this may be useful for classes studying history through novels. To be illustrated by Bert Dodson. --Kay Weisman