Avi to speak in Vail about ‘Hard Gold’ | VailDaily.com

Avi to speak in Vail about ‘Hard Gold’

Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado ” Prolific children’s book author Avi plans to visit the Vail Mountain School Tuesday for an informal chat on his latest book, “Hard Gold: The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859.”

At once educational and adventure-packed, the fictional account is the second installment in Avi’s “I Witness” series.

“I’m trying to create historical fiction which is exciting and full of adventure for the middle school reader, that will engage them and be a quick read,” said Avi, a Denver resident whose given name is Edward Wortis. “At the same time, they are very carefully researched so that everything in the story is accurate as much as I possibly could.”

Based on real diaries about the Colorado gold rush, “Hard Gold” is like a historical tour of gold-panning hot spots in Pikes Peak and other places near modern-day Denver and Boulder.

“The Colorado gold rush is not one that’s generally known,” Avi said. “There have been many gold rushes in America. We all think of the California gold rush, but there was one in Georgia before the California one. There’s one in Idaho, there’s one in the Dakotas, there’s one in Alaska, there’s been some in Australia, and so on and so forth. This one just struck my fancy since I’m here.”

The story follows a young boy, Early Wittcomb, whose family has encountered tough economic times and can’t pay the mortgage on its Iowa farm. When the bank threatens to take away the farm, Early’s Uncle Jesse takes off for Pikes Peak in hopes of striking it rich.

Uncle Jesse writes home with news that he found gold but that his life is in danger, prompting Early to set out to find his uncle.

Interestingly, the book hit the shelves amid a wave of modern-day foreclosures, making the Wittcombs’ mortgage woes particularly relevant.

“It’s curiously current, but I certainly didn’t predict this financial crisis,” Avi said. “Maybe that will make it a little bit more real to people.”

“Hard Gold” is the 69th book Avi has published. This coming spring, Avi plans to release another installment in a series about Poppy the mouse. He’s also working on a prequel to “Midnight Magic,” a ghost story set in Italy.

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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