The Tracks
by Rosalyn Rikel Ramage
Trafford Publishing

"Somewhere in the back of my brain, there lurked an uneasy feeling that something was about to happen-something that might not turn out well."

Intended for middle age children, this is a strong piece of fiction with historical elements perfectly aligned to launch a successful series. Told from the perspective of 12-year-old Emma Mae, the story begins as she prepares to attend a 1914 Halloween party with her two brothers, 10-year-old Edward and 14-year-old Clarence, followed unexpectedly by Edward's three-legged dog Jiggs.

Preparations for the party give Emma Mae and Edward no opportunity to share with their older brother the mysterious event they witnessed in the woods that afternoon, but the eerie story shared by a stranger during the party causes the children to remember the event as they make their way home. Chased from the scene by a pair of hobos hiding in the woods, the children start a wild adventure on a nearly invisible train that takes them far from home, perhaps forever.

Ramage skillfully blends true history into the narrative, making it possible for readers to make modern day connections with humanitarian ideals. Illustrations by Alison Davis Lyne are scattered irregularly throughout the text increasing interest and providing readers with a stronger sense of the characters and scenes described. Adults may find some elements of the plot too transparent, but Ramage is never trite or superficial.

As children read through this book, they will encounter concepts such as compassion, honor, loyalty, courage and self-reliance. Emma Mae is a strong character capable of making decisions, driving action and standing up for her own ideals. Trusted to take on the more dangerous tasks confronting them, Ramage provides female readers with a character they can truly look up to.

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