A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the Magic Tree House books, written by Mary Pope Osborne, all revolve around siblings Jack (age 8) and Annie (7), who discover that a tree house in the woods near their home can transport them to different places and historical periods. The children are sent all around the globe to achieve specific goals, usually to rescue an important historical document. The books are all highly entertaining and educational. Each volume follows a certain suspenseful arc, so the children end up in at least one precarious situation, but things always turn out well. Later books in the series have a little more sophisticated language and some have more fantastical plots, for slightly older readers, but they are no more scary than the early books.
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What's the story?
Each of the books in the MAGIC TREE HOUSE series begins with the story of how one day in Frog Creek, PA, 8-year-old Jack and 7-year-old Annie discover a tree house in the woods near their home. The tree house was put there by master librarian Morgan le Fay. In the first 28 chapter books in the series, the children notice that a certain volume from Morgan's library has been left for them to explore. When they point to a location in the book and say, "I wish we could go there," they are magically transported to that location and historical time. Books 29 and on are "Merlin Missions," in which the kids are guided by Merlin the Magician; these books are somewhat more fantastical and more sophisticated to appeal to slightly older readers. As of December 2012, there are 48 books in this series, in which Jack and Annie explore history, cultures, music, art, science and natural phenomena.There's also a companion series of nonfiction Fact Trackers, written by the author's husband and sister, Will Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, which delve deeper into the subjects addressed in some of the novels.
Is it any good?
The Magic Tree House books make wonderful first chapter books for first- and second-graders (or advanced kindergartners) to read alone, or for parents of young school children to read aloud. The formula that all of the books follow may seem repetitive to parents, but kids find these books fascinating and comforting at once, because they know Jack and Annie are going to get home to Frog Creek. Pope Osborne is enormously successful at teaching and engaging children, and there's something in this series for every kid, whether they're into dolphins, pandas, painters, or pilgrims.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Morgan missions vs. the Merlin missions: How are they different? Which do you like better and why?
Do you think these books would make a good TV show?
Which books in the series do you like best? Are their places/subjects you learned about that you'd like to investigate further?
- Author: Mary Pope Osborne
- Illustrator: Sal Murdocca
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Dinosaurs, Magic and Fantasy, Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Arts and Dance, Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, History, Holidays, Horses and Farm Animals, Music and Sing-Along, Ocean Creatures, Pirates, Space and Aliens, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House Children's Books
- Publication date: July 28, 1992
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 6 - 8
- Number of pages: 68
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 02, 2020
For kids who love fantasy and adventure
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