Messner, Kate. Ranger in Time #1: Rescue on the Oregon Trail
January 6th 2015 by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Ranger is a dog who has trained to be a rescue dog but failed because he always decides to chase squirrels if they are around. He still likes playing with his boy, Luke, and is surprised when he digs up a metal box that transports him back to the year 1850. There, he meets Sam, whose family is embarking on the Oregon Trail, and rescues Sam's little sister. Things are harsh on the trail, although there is plenty of bacon, and Ranger misses Luke. He feels that there must be someone in danger that he will need to rescue, and the trail is full of opportunities. The family takes in a girl whose parents die, Ranger is essential in helping with a dangerous river crossing, and Ranger is also there when Sam gets a horrible fever. When all seems okay, Ranger is finally able to get back to Luke and prepare for his next adventure... in ancient Rome. (June 30th 2015 by Scholastic Press)
Strengths: There aren't many books about the Oregon Trail, and it is a fascinating chapter in American history, so it's good to have a new title, and dogs are always a plus. Messner's writing is always smooth, and even though this is from Ranger's perspective, it's not annoyingly precious. Good historical details and notes.
Weaknesses: I remember reading (during the height of my Little House phase in the 1974) a rather long book about children on the Oregon Trail... Children of the Covered Wagon, perhaps? This book didn't draw me in with the details as much as that book did... somehow the dog as a time travel device, or perhaps time travel to this point in history, didn't work for me as much. A little leery of the book set in Rome, although at least it is about gladiators and NOT Pompeii!