by Kate Messner
Published January 2015 by Scholastic Press
Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Review copy provided by publisher
Meet Ranger! He's a time-traveling golden retriever who has a nose for trouble . . . and always saves the day! Ranger has been trained as a search-and-rescue dog, but can't officially pass the test because he's always getting distracted by squirrels during exercises. One day, he finds a mysterious first aid kit in the garden and is transported to the year 1850, where he meets a young boy named Sam Abbott. Sam's family is migrating west on the Oregon Trail, and soon after Ranger arrives he helps the boy save his little sister. Ranger thinks his job is done, but the Oregon Trail can be dangerous, and the Abbotts need Ranger's help more than they realize!
I read this book in one sitting. I found the time period to be fascinating and this book is jam-packed with events that kept me wanting to see what would happen. I have to admit, I am not a "dog person" but you don't need to be one to enjoy Ranger's story. The characters are easy to love as they bravely face dangers like a buffalo stampede and life-threatening diseases. They often have Ranger to thank for keeping them safe and together.
I learned a great deal about The Oregon Trail and the travel west during this time period. It was a difficult and often sad time when so many families made the courageous decision to move west seeking land and, in some cases, fortunes. Messner has done her research and seamlessly weaves facts into this page-turner. Her author's note also provides additional interesting information for the reader.
At only 144 pages, with manageable text complexity, Ranger in Time is accessible to many middle grade readers. They will fall in love with Ranger and his thrilling adventures!
Ranger's next story will take place in ancient Rome. I am thrilled that there will be more Ranger books. I am putting in my vote for one that takes place during The American Revolution since that is one the time periods I teach in social studies. I expect this series will appeal to readers who love historical fiction books like The Magic Tree House and the I Survived series.