Really, I’m not even a dog person, but in this series author Kate Messner describes Ranger so well it’s almost impossible to not find him really endearing. The blurb of this book had me at “Viking Age Iceland”. Like all the other books in this series, Journey through Ash and Smoke (Ranger in Time, # 5), (2017, 160 pages, Lexile Measure 730) by Kate Messner is a hit. The series features relatively easy chapter books with many illustrations, and swift action which makes them quick reads. The sweet spot for these books is kids in grades 2-4.
Here’s a video summary from Scholastic:
I’ve reviewed all the other Ranger in Time books on this blog (#1,#2, #3, #4). I don’t know if I can say much about this time-traveling dog that I haven’t already said. However, this story is different from the others in that the main character Helga, a brave Viking girl, actually saves Ranger from danger a couple of times. Usually Ranger does the saving. The problem with this turn of events is that Ranger can only return to the present if he saves someone. Will he be stuck in the past, forced to subsist on stew-covered bones and dried fish forever?
Helga is just totally brave and cool. The rocky wilds of Iceland are her playground. Sometimes she fastens one end of a rope to a boulder, ties the other end of the rope around her waist, and hangs the rope over a cliff to hunt puffin eggs for the family to eat. When her mother goes into labor, Helga rides a horse through the night to go for help, crossing two rivers. Oh, and there’s a volcano erupting at the same time.
Kids will enjoy the artic fox puppy that makes an appearance in this book. I was interested to read in the author’s note at the end of the book that this was based on an artic fox pup that Messner actually encountered when she was doing research in Iceland. Messner’s author’s notes are always worth reading. At the back of this book can also be found two chapters from next book in this series, Escape from the Great Earthquake (Ranger in Time #6), scheduled to come out on June 27.
For more middle grade book reviews, follow the links on Shannon Messenger’s blog.