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“As for the enslaved men who fought for the Continental Army, a few were freed when the war ended. Most, however, were still considered property. They were sent back into slavery by the country they’d helped to found, and never tasted the freedom for which they’d fought.” –Night of Soldiers and Spies.
Night of Soldiers and Spies
Ranger in Time #10
by Kate Messner
Ranger, the time-traveling golden retriever with search-and-rescue training, travels to Colonial America to help the patriot cause!
Ranger’s next mission finds him in the middle of the Revolutionary War. There, he meets Isaac Pope, a fisherman turned soldier for the Continental Army. When General George Washington needs a spy to cross into enemy territory, Isaac is chosen for the dangerous task. Ranger must help Isaac remain safe and undetected, or the battle—and their lives—will be lost.
Even though the main protagonist, Isaac, is young, he shows determination and bravery. He willingly goes into enemy territory even though he knows it will be dangerous and difficult. Isaac is part of the Continental Army, and his regiment is assigned to ferry soldiers across the river. Even though Ranger is afraid, he accompanies Isaac on his spying mission. Ranger saves the boy’s life when he alerts others that Isaac is in danger, but more often, Ranger comforts Isaac by just being with him.
Even though General Washington was a pivotal person in the Revolutionary War, Night of Soldiers and Spies doesn’t portray him as a perfect hero. Instead, the story includes Washington’s flaws, creating a realistic, well-rounded individual. “General Washington himself had argued that black men shouldn’t be recruited as soldiers,” but the Army was in desperate need of men, so slaves were allowed to fight. Under Washington, “the enslaved men who fought for the Continental Army. . . were still considered property. They were sent back into slavery by the country they’d helped to found, and never tasted the freedom for which they’d fought.”
Night of Soldiers and Spies is an entertaining and educational story that has a unique perspective because it focuses on a golden retriever. The third-person narration adds interest while reducing some of the story’s scariness. Full-page, black-and-white illustrations appear approximately every six pages. Even though Ranger’s story is fictional, facts are woven into the story. The end of the book has additional information about the Fourteenth Continental Regiment and a list of more resources. Readers interested in history and war may also enjoy the Boys of Wartime Series by Laurie Calkhoven.
- When Isaac is crossing a half-frozen river, the ice begins breaking. “Isaac plunged into the icy river. It was so cold he couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t even think. But he caught another slab of ice floating by and held on.” Ranger gets Isaac help.
- On a bitterly cold night, the Continental Army marches towards the enemy. “Ranger sniffed the air as they walked. It smelled of ice and river water and tired men. . .Some had worn out their shoes and left bloody footprints in the snow.”
- A Hessian regiment fired on the Continental Army and Isaac is shot. “A burning pain seared through Isaac’s leg. He dove behind a fence and pressed his hand to his thigh. It was wet and warm with blood. . .” A doctor operates on Isaac’s leg, and he recovers.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Colonel Rall calls the Continental Army’s men “country clowns.”
- Ranger travels through time with the help of a first aid kit. When the first aid kit hums, Ranger puts the strap over his head. “The box grew warm at his throat. It grew brighter and brighter. . . He felt as if he were being squeezed through a hole in the sky. . .” When Ranger opens his eyes, he is in the past.
- Isaac has a good-luck charm. “It was just a short length of knotted rope, but its’ rough, scratchy feel always reminded him of home.”