It's been a Kate Messner January for me! I had several books of hers that were on my list to read. I've read other books by Kate before, and what has always stayed with me is her talent. Most authors stick with not only a particular genre, but also an audience. Kate doesn't. She can equally write for young readers as she can for middle grade. She writes mysteries, adventure and historical fiction with ease. I spent this first month of 2015 exploring some of her books.
For the transitional chapter book reader
Ranger in Time Rescue on the Oregon Trail
This book is the first in this historical fiction series for primary/elementary readers. Ranger, a golden retriever, has been trained to be a search and rescue dog, but hasn't been able to pass his training due to his inability to stay focused, especially from squirrels. Ranger finds a special first aid kit that has him time travel to a point in history where someone needs his help.
In this first book, Ranger travels back to the Oregon Trail to help young Sam Abbott's family arrive safely to the Oregon Territory. Rich with history that is embedded in a great story, kids are going to be learning U.S. and world history without trying! I can't wait to see all the adventures Ranger will be taking his readers on.
This first book includes author notes that give additional information about search and rescue dogs, as well as historical information on the Oregon Trail.
For the middle grade reader
All the Answers
I had heard wonderful things about this book and was excited to start it. Imagine what it would be like having a pencil that gave you answers. Not only to homework and tests, but also about people and situations. With every upside, there is a very equal and hard downside.
Kate surprised me a couple of times with this book. I don't want to give away anything, so I can't talk about them, all I can say is I really had not seen them coming.
I loved the main character, Ava. She has a very authentic voice for middle grade readers. Her concerns, her interests will be very relatable for readers. I think you can't fool young readers. They know when authors are talking down to them through their characters, and when the authors just get them. Kids are going to really like Ava.
The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z
I had this on my TBR list since I joined Goodreads.... and I don't remember how many years ago that was! Glad I finally got to it!
After reading this book and All the Answers, I realized that Kate is a master at getting the MG voice just right. I think Gianna and Ava would be friends.
Kate also ties different story lines and problems together with a deft hand that never feels forced or rushed. Things come together at the right time and leave the reader with a satisfied feeling.
The Exact Location of Home
On the one hand I feel lucky that I had not read Gianna Z until when I did because I was able to go straight into this e-read.
With Gianna's voice fresh in my head, I was still able to transfer to Zig's voice without confusing the character. That's because Kate defines her characters so well - each have solid traits that make them unique.
I loved falling into Zig's story. Still focusing on family, much like Gianna, but with Zig's own twists and turns.
This book can be read on its own, but any reader will be glad to pick up both stories!
For the writer/teacher
59 Reasons to Write
Does Kate know me?? I laughed when I heard about this book, because it was like she had gotten into my head! I DO NOT like writing. I'm scared. I'm so unsure of what I'm doing. Yeah, I know, I'm writing this post. But I feel like I ramble. I feel like I don't come off sounding professional. I don't always know what to write. Isn't writing when you come up with stories for picture books or novels? Or you research for a nonfiction book? I know there are many purposes so why do I feel like I can't write?
I really can't wait to dig into this book. I'm hoping to read through it, but then dig into it more this summer with other colleagues. Anyone interested??
Hope you have discovered Kate Messner like I have! I can't wait to read more of her books and continue to share them with teachers and students.