The best middle grade novels where the dog lives

The Books I Picked & Why

Rescue on the Oregon Trail (Ranger in Time #1)

By Kate Messner, Kelley McMorris

Rescue on the Oregon Trail (Ranger in Time #1)

Why this book?

I love it because it’s a time-traveling dog! What’s not to like? Ranger proves to himself and the friends he encounters that a scrappy, impulse-challenged dog can help you through the worst of times. Plus, it’s a series, so you know Ranger will live so that he can make it to the next book.


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Secondhand Dogs

By Carolyn Crimi

Secondhand Dogs

Why this book?

Who knew that some dogs could be so obsessed with power? Carolyn Crimi that’s who! She has created a super fun and engaging cast of dog characters with complicated motives and relationships. Dare I say it? It’s heartwarming, and I am not so jaded that I can’t be cheered up by heartwarming dogs. Spoiler: The dogs survive, but not all the people. Still, loss and grief are dealt with in age-appropriate ways.


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A Dog-Friendly Town

By Josephine Cameron

A Dog-Friendly Town

Why this book?

Oh boy! It’s a dog-centered mystery where celebrity dogs rule, and when a jeweled collar goes missing, everyone is a suspect. I adored the twists and turns here, and you will wish your dog could stay at the enchanting bed and breakfast where the action unfolds. Heck, I wish I could stay there. 


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Rez Dogs

By Joseph Bruchac

Rez Dogs

Why this book?

Okay. I’m not always down on super heavy books. But this is a beautiful book, and the dog lives. Let’s focus on that. Told in verse, this book about a Native American girl staying with her grandparents during the pandemic dips into some difficult history and current event topics, but Bruchac’s faith in the power of stories and community makes it a compelling and memorable read.


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Ginger Pye

By Eleanor Estes

Ginger Pye

Why this book?

This is one of my all-time favorites. But it’s an old one. It was first published in 1951. It is adorable and funny, and I don’t think it’s ever been out of print. It’s about a boy who searches for his dognapped dog, Ginger Pye. No worries. Love will triumph!


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