Book Review: Iain Reading’s Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold

Posted June 15, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Middle-Grade readers

I received this book for free from the author as a free story in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Iain Reading’s Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold


Iain Reading

action & adventure, amateur sleuth that was published by Amazon Digital Services on December 2012 and has 336 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

First in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency adventure series for middle-grade readers, which revolves around Kitty Hawk, a teen aviatrix, and the start of her adventures in her floatplane, a De Havilland Beaver. The story begins and ends in Tofino on Vancouver Island in Canada.

I did receive this from the author.

My Take

Cute, a bit lecture-y, but Kitty is definitely full of spirit, and you can’t help but fall into her and Reading’s enthusiasm. I suspect the first prologue — in which she’s about to go down with her plane exactly where Amelia Earhart disappeared — introduces the series and future stories will be her reminiscing about all her adventures as she loses altitude. I have no idea what Reading thought the second prologue was contributing other than page filling. The rest is a nice sandwich of adventure, then historical misdeeds and covering up, followed by still more adventure with capture, chases, and ambushes.

I love how Reading starts this — well, excepting that “Chapter Zero”, what’s up with that? And I agree with Kitty; the Tilley Clothing Company makes excellent outdoor clothing. Expensive, but incredibly worth it — and cheap in the long run.

I also love Kitty’s parents. They’re what parents should be: supportive, loving, and encouraging. Mom reckons every expedition needs a sense of style — how very cool is that!

Parents will adore this as it promotes confidence, moral values, a sense of family, an appreciation for what true wealth is, and the environment — it certainly made me feel like heading to Alaska to whale watch. Kids may empathize with those comments about whales never brushing their teeth! Phew…! There’s a bit of teambuilding in here as well with Kitty contacting tour boats to let them know where the whales are congregating and her interactions with her kidnappers.

“The waves and wind are all part of how the planet breathes.
Don’t you want to feel the Earth breathe? Just for an instant?”

I did enjoy the learning, although I wish Reading did less info dumping and skipped the lecturing tone; I suspect he’s “educating” his readers, and it is educational. I just wish it weren’t so didactic. He does throw some fun into this: I enjoyed the “Captain’s Log, stardate” bit, *grin*. I can’t wait, though, for Kitty to learn that Big Macs are not the same all over the world. Wait’ll she gets to India! Then there’s that hike…I think I was almost as exhausted as Kitty! It was a great way to bring to life the struggle those gold miners had back in the 1800s.

Interesting contrast between the American lack of law and the Canadian Mounties doing it so well. The blend of today with native mythology was beautifully done as well.

I’d’ve liked it if the maps were zoomable. As it was, they were simply an irritating tease. Maybe make the maps big enough to be behind all the text?

This story rang some bells for me, for my past with my metallurgist husband and his specialty in extracting gold. Yep, I’ve been on gold mines, seen pours, and heard lots of mining talk over the years and Reading’s background information rang true. He certainly puts the Alaska Gold Rush into perspective. Poor saps.

In many ways, this story reminds me of the Junior Classics. Those stories used to get me all het up and wanting to nurse critters back to life, be a junior detective, rescue whatever, then there are the lessons that Kitty learned from the boys…not a bad way to inspire kids into wanting to accomplish, to do, to react in the best possible ways.

One of my niggles was how Kitty made that connection between the boat and the stolen gold. Another one is how Kitty, who grew up in Canada, has missed seeing the Northern Lights, and why would Kitty take such a huge chance with the fuel?

No nightmare worries in this. The greatest amount of tension was in those overweight take-offs. Otherwise, it’s mostly excitement and adventure with a couple of surprising twists over halfway through! Although, I don’t get why the boys didn’t report the lie.

Nice resolution and very much in keeping with Kitty’s philosophy.

The Story

It’s that gap year and Kitty has it in her heart to record the whales off Juneau, little knowing how her curiosity will stretch her experiences!

The Characters

Kitty Hawk is a young aviatrix having learned, literally, at her father’s knee, and she’s interested in animal behavior and biology, especially humpback whales. She flies a De Havilland Beaver, Charlie-Foxtrot-Kilo-Tango-Yankee. Dad is a pilot for a local airline while Mom runs her own yoga studio.

The thieves
Charlie, Will, Buck, and Jay. Another Charlie and Chet are friends of Charlie’s.

John “Crazy Alaska Jack” Kilpatrick has a vivid imagination and a lot of chutzpah. Scott Price is the regional manager of U-Haul in Anchorage. Detective Kevin Palin is the cop investigating. The Clara Nevada plays a big part in this, even today. Captain C.H. Lewis commanded the doomed ship. George Foster Beck was the purser; George Rogers the freight clerk; George Waters was the ship’s clerk; and, Seamus MacDonald was the fireman.

Skeena Martin is Kitty’s best friend and a member of a local tribe: the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. Joseph is Skeena’s grandfather and one of the tribe’s elders. He believes that man needs to know “when to stop taking. And when to give.” Skeena’s Aunt Jenny and Uncle Joe Thomas live in Juneau and have offered to let Kitty stay with them for the summer. Uncle Joe takes tourists out on his boat to show them what crab fishing is like.

Glen operates the Fjordland, a whale tour boat; his wife is Alison, Gary is his brother, and Iris is a member of his crew. Walter the Whale plays his part.

Amanda Phillpott is Kitty’s antagonist. Mrs. McCready has made her own contributions to Kitty’s plans; Wilson is Mrs. McCready’s ancient yellow Labrador. Edward is helping out on his dad’s fishing boat for the summer; during the school year, he attends the University of Washington for a degree in journalism. George Carmack discovered the first gold back in 1896. Alex Tilley of Tilley Endurables plays his part *grin*. Haley is the go-to girl for everything at the MacBride Museum of Yukon History.

The Cover and Title

The cover is cartoonish with a collage of events in Kitty’s adventure: the whale and Kitty’s floatplane soaring above the face of a glacier representing Alaska. Kitty herself is in her green Tilley hat with a brown safari-like jacket.

The title is the start of Kitty’s adventures with Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold.

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