DINOSAURS BEFORE DARK (MAGIC TREE HOUSE #1)
By Mary Pope Osborne, Illustrations by Sal Murdocca
Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers (July 28, 1992)
Available in: paperback, library binding, audiobook CD, audible, Kindle, NOOK
At the time of this review, there were 51 books in the Magic Tree House series, as well as a line of research books for kids.
This tree house is a mansion.
The Magic Tree House series is like Goliath to all the David chapter books now available: there are so many in this series, and it is so popular with the younger chapter book set, I imagine it’d be hard to find people not aware of Magic Tree House.
So what made this one take off? Most chapter books tend to be the stepchild of the publishing industry: off to the side and forgotten save by teachers and some parents and kids. So what enchanted dust is swirling here?
Here’s what I see as the magic in this series:
- Short, snappy sentences
- Appeals to both boys and girls
- Offers adventure. And delivers in every story
- Fully fleshed-out illustrations that occupy lots of space
A kid who thumbs through his first Magic Tree House is not going to be intimidated or overwhelmed. And once in the book, the action will carry him through to the end in fast-paced clip. What more does a newly independent or reluctant reader need?
Teachers and parents also love that there’s a lot of educational facts covered on each subject.
That said, don’t fret if your child or student doesn’t get drawn in—this tree isn’t for everyone. I know a number of kids, including my own, who never saw the magic. And yet one can’t help but be impressed with the sheer success of this series, and wonder how many children Jack and Annie ushered into the world of literacy. Now that’s magic.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….