By the Great Horn Spoon
I saved the best for last. This is a ripsnorting adventure book about twelve-year old Jack and his butler who set out for gold-rich California. And it's not just any butler who accompanies Jack. This butler is Praiseworthy. Yes, that's his name, the only name worthy of him. I would place him head-to-head with Jeeves as best butler in the world, way above Mr. Carson. And if I wasn't already infatuated with Praiseworthy, he won my technical writer's heart by learning to box from a how-to book.
Jack sets out for California to help his Aunt Arabella keep her home. She had taken Jack and his sisters in when their parents had died. The letter he penned to her goes like:
Dear Aunt Arabella, Constance, and Sarah,
By this time you know that Praiseworthy and I have joined the gold rush to California. Please do not worry. We are getting plenty of exercise. Our ship is racing The Sea Raven to San Francisco.
Along the way, Jack and Praiseworthy meet Good Luck, a pig; Cut-Eye Higgins, a villainous dentist, and Pitch Pine Billy who teaches Jack to drink coffee. You'll want to meet them too! Sid Fleischman, the author, meant this for kids but why let them have all the fun?
I listened to an audio version, which was a full-cast recording, with each part read by a different actor. That truly added to the lively experience. I looked into the Disney film version called The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffins, available on Disney +, which looks shudder-inducing horrible. Don't watch it. Instead listen to the audio version. I got it from my public library so your library might have a copy too. By the Great Horn Spoon, you've got to read this!