The Balloon Boy of San Francisco

Dorothy Kupcha Leland

In 1853, San Francisco newsboy Ready Gates lives up to his nickname. He’s ready for anything—whether it’s shouting the latest headlines from a street corner, sneaking onto a river boat, or tracking down a missing gold miner. But when he crosses the bay to watch the ascension of the first balloon brought to California, his adventures suddenly take an unexpected turn.

Based on a true story and extensive research by the author, this book paints a colorful, evocative and accurate picture of daily life in San Francisco five years after the discovery of gold. It’s drawn from newspapers, letters, diaries and many other historical documents.

“...brings the past to vibrant life, recreating history and setting with such detail it’s the next best thing to stepping into a time machine.”
~Midwest Book Review

128 pages, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", full-color cover, one map, 2005.Published by Tomato Enterprises. ISBN 0-9617357-9-1 trade paper



“...a detailed account of young Ready Gates fantastic voyage . . . paint[s] a fascinating portrait of everyday life in the bustling Bay Area just five years after the discovery of gold in the nearby Sierra.”
~San Francisco Examiner

“With it’s colorful details, this book brings Gold Rush history to life, touching on dangers such as sinking ships, burning buildings and kidnappings, and lively characters such as stowaway newsboys, questionable fortune-tellers, traveling picture-takers and, of course, all kinds of gold-seekers.”
~Washington Post Kids Book of the Week, December 5, 2004

“The history of San Francisco during those rambunctious golden years of the early 1850s comes to life through the eyes of pioneer aeronaut Ready Gates. Historian and novelist Dorothy Leland weaves a story based on solid research that features ship wrecks, fires, gold seeking, a street preacher, fortuneteller, daguerreian artist and the spellbinding performances of Lola Montez all topped off by one of the most improbable events in California history√’√’the death-defying first-ever balloon flight. All ages will enjoy following the adventures of this amazing ’balloon boy’.”
~Gary Kurutz, Director of Special Collections, California State Library

“Colorful and accurate details bring to life California’s fascinating Gold-Rush era in this captivating tale of a hardworking newspaper boy’s excellent adventure.”
~JoAnn Levy, author of They Saw the Elephant: Women in the California Gold Rush


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