Time-traveling dogs get the chance to help world-famous Balto in this chapter-book series opener that blends gentle adventure with history.
Yellow Labrador Baxter and his dog pals (border collie Newton, Jack Russell Trevor, papillon Maia, and three-legged mutt Titch) accidentally tumble to the year 1925 in Alaska via a magical van. As they travel backward in time, the creaky old canines become young dogs again. In this strange new location, they meet Balto and a crew of Siberian huskies who are on a rescue mission to deliver medicine to sick children. Emerging readers can use context clues to build vocabulary, and frequent illustrations both break up text and assist readers in visualizing the variety of dog characters. Even with this assist, some may lose track of minor characters in the wide ensemble. A refrain about what constitutes bravery offers opportunity for social-emotional development alongside comprehension. In Seaman and the Great Northern Adventure, the dogs travel to 1805 and become entangled in Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition, encountering enslaved African-American York and Shoshone guide Sacagawea. Unfortunately, Sacagawea fulfills the trope of mystic, seeming to be the only human who can intuit the dogs’ language. Author’s notes provide additional historical information and context for the stories.
Dominant-narrative historical adventure with appeal to dog lovers. (Fantasy. 7-10)