Dinosaurs Before Dark: Magic Tree House, Book 1

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Dinosaurs Before Dark: Magic Tree House, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Mild time-travel adventure.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 10 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's nothing of concern here, and much that is educational. Jack and Annie encounter friendly dinosaurs, gathering a few scientific facts about each one, and sparking imaginations. While the short sentences may have adults yawning, kids will learn to read with them.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMomofDevinandOwen April 9, 2008

My daughter's favorite book series!

My daughter started the Magic Treehouse book series when she was 4 (she's 5 now.) She loves the stories and we end up reading whole books in just a couple... Continue reading
Adult Written byEmanuela January 13, 2012

Great series for beginning readers and beyond

This book and the whole series are great for beginning readers. They really helped my child enjoy reading because the words are short and simple, while the stor... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 12, 2009
its a nice story about Dinosaurs
Kid, 10 years old November 27, 2010

What's the story?

Jack and Annie travel back in time via treehouse to the prehistoric Cretaceous period. In this mild adventure written in short, clipped sentence structure, the two siblings fly on the back of a Pteranodon, stumble upon nests filled with tiny dinosaurs and flee from a T-rex.

In the first of many Magic Tree House adventures, 8-year-old Jack and his 7-year-old sister Annie discover what they think must be the "highest treehouse in the world." They climb up and find it's filled with books. When Jack fingers a picture of a Pteranodon and says, "I wish I could see a Pteranodon for real," his wish comes true.

Jack and Annie are transported back 65 million years, where they meet a flying reptile they name Henry, a 12,00 pound flower-eating Triceratops, a duck-billed dinosaur with a voice like a tuba called an Anatosaurus, and a T-rex who could eat a human in a single bite. A mysterious gold medallion with the letter M is collected along the way, reassuring the two that their trip in the flying tree house was real.

Is it any good?

In this first adventure, Mary Osborne sets the stage for her popular series, and the set-up is inventive. A book must be found and opened and a wish made for the tree house to begin spinning -- and transport Jack and Annie to another place and time.

An escape, in which Jack hops atop an ancient flying reptile and soars over a Tyrannosaurus rex, will have readers holding their breath, then cheering for the hero's return to safety. And even though Jack gets to do the flying, Annie has her part: It's her ingenuity that saves her brother.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the scientific aspects of dinosaurs. 

  • How much of this story is real, how much is made up, and how much are we just not certain about?

Book details

For kids who love pictures books

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