Gold is a new novel for boys and girls from Geraldine Mills, author of many books of poetry and short stories for adult readers. This is her first children’s books.
A novel full of big ideas for a young age group, this story pulls in themes of family, emigration, ecology and political oppression. Oh, and a gold-hunting adventure involving a flying machine!
Gold tells the story of twin boys Esper and Starn who live in a grim world that has been almost laid waste by massive volcanic explosions. Very little grows in Orchard, which used to be a fruit-growing area, but with the death of insects and birds, pollination of the fruit trees is a tedious and precarious undertaking.
When the boys discover an intriguing old manuscript in a locked room in their apartment, which tells of gold on one of the forbidden islands the people can see from the coastline, they determine to go on gold-hunt. They manage to construct a glider that takes them far from their home territory, and so begins a whole new adventure for the boys, as they travel from island to island in search of gold. Their adventures are many and they come close to death. They do in the end, find the gold – but it is nothing like what they expected.
Author Geraldine Mills says, ‘For me, like most writers, the spark of an idea comes out of an image, a chance detail, and that’s the flame that sets the imagination alight. Fuel it with ‘what if’ and soon you have a narrative running away with itself. Watching the Connemara landscape around me and knowing how easily it can all be destroyed, I wondered how we as a race would survive some environmental disaster or other. I had carried the image of the two boys around with me for many years and once the image of them in pollination suits came alive for me, ‘what if,’ kicked in. A children’s story was the only faithful way to tell it and I followed them up and down their various adventures until they discovered their gold.’
Siobhán Parkinson of Little Island, publisher, says, ‘We were intrigued by the way Geraldine Mills has woven a dystopian adventure for children out of big political and ecological ideas. Also, this book is so beautifully written, and the island-hopping adventure in pursuit of gold is such a classic children’s literature idea, we had to publish it.’
Cover design is by Lauren O’Neill, a young Irish artist based in Dublin, winner of the 2016 Children’s Books Ireland Award for Illustration.
PRAISE FOR GOLD
‘Mills perfectly contrasts the two halves of the story, using a vocabulary unique to Orchard to describe that world and completely new ways for the boys to describe the islands’ vivid, unfamiliar flora. Heavy concerns—bad government, environmental challenges—are compassionately woven into a story with Mills’ poetic lyricism showing through. Also of note is Lauren O’Neill’s gorgeous cover illustration. The twins’ quick-paced, action-packed journey will sweep readers right along with them.’ – Kirkus Reviews , starred review
Chosen as one of Bookbag’s top ten books of 2016
‘An imaginative and wondrous adventure in the vein of such classics as Treasure Island and The Swiss Family Robinson. Never too heavy or dark and packed with adventure, it is interspersed with humour and child-like wonder. It is exciting, dramatic and filled with nuance and beauty. Written with clarity, compassion and purpose, Gold is open enough to allow the reader to fulling engage; come to his or her own conclusions; paint his or her own pictures in the realms of imagination. An amazing story, filled with life, Gold is a story to be treasured. This book simply sings!’ – The Bookbag
‘A mile a minute adventure story. Wildly inventive and imaginative. Geraldine Mills is an exciting new voice in children’s literature.’ – Patricia Forde, author of The Wordsmith
‘Also for this age group, Gold by Geraldine Mills is a thoughtful, well-written dystopian adventure story which deals with big themes like politics and ecology and was inspired by watching the landscape in Connemara and knowing how easily it could all be destroyed.’ – Sarah Webb, Sunday Independent
‘A wonderful book, a page-turner from the beginning’ – The Connacht Tribune
‘A truly remarkable book with those elements that touch both children and big children. While there are the ‘grown-up’ concerns in the story; environment, social disarray, finance crisis, etc.; these issues never overwhelm what is at its heart and soul an adventure story. The writing itself is lyrical and inventive, with a clear love of language and its construction and evolution. Utterly contemporary in its concept, it holds on to the same tradition as Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Swiss Family Robinson, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. There are echoes from mythology and folk tales. The tale is complex, and yet, so simple and clear. And it is magnificent. My advise, get yourself a copy of Gold and read. Have an adventure.’ – Mary Esther Judy, Dubray Bookseller
‘Mills writes with an ease, captures the voices of the young boys really well, with an engaging tone that will appeal to any reader of 8+ I thoroughly enjoyed Gold, enjoyed the joining the boys on their adventure as they battled again many elements including people. Gold raises lots of situations that should trigger healthy discussions between younger readers and adults. Highly recommended for a summer read which can be enjoyed by all the family.’ – Sheila, bookseller at Dulwich Books
Reviewed on TV3 and chosen as one of their summer reads by Aine Toner, former bookseller at Dubray and editor at Woman’s Way, who said it was ‘wonderful’, was ‘totally blown away’ and that there was ‘something magical about it’.
Articles by the author on writing Gold
A Whole New Readership: Gold by Geraldine Mills – article for writing.ie on transitioning from an author of adult poetry and short stories to an author for children
On writing Gold by Geraldine Mills – a piece for The Irish Times on the inspiration behind the novel
Geraldine Mills has been writing for many years and is well established as a poet and short-story writer, with several books to her name. This is her first novel, and her first book for children. She lives in Oughterard, outside Galway city, on the west coast of Ireland, with her husband.