All Up In That Tree House

Dinosaurs Before Dark

Author:  Mary Pope Osborne

I’ve been teaching reading long enough to have amassed several Magic Tree House books, and I’ve done a quick looksy over one or two, just enough to get the gist of the two-siblings-go-on-wacky-adventures vibe, and the titles often suggest  having a strong factual background.  But the time finally came for me to get a grasp on Jack and Annie and whatnot.  And I have to say, Dinosaurs Before Dark was what I would want in an early chapter book–a clear plot mountain, characters that show development, and lots of action and dialogue–all 10 short chapters.

What I liked most about this first installment was that it did not try to answer all the questions about the magic tree house.  The main characters (and readers) don’t get all the answers from the beginning.  Since this is a HUGE series, this approach makes me hope that the series develops throughout, rather than being a totally formulaic re-hash like some other early chapter book series.  Yeah, I can hear you…that formulaic element is an important developmental piece for young readers.  I know.  But its a bit boring for the rest of us.

After taking a close look at this first book in the series, I feel like I have a better understanding of how the series works and thus will do a better job fitting readers to these books and vice versa.  And given what a quick read this was ( I completed it while the nephew was taking a swimming lesson), I think I’ll read a few more in the series.  I can usually get a lot more mileage out of series books if they have both a girl and a boy protagonist, because then both girls and boys are more likely to read.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. BookMama
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 02:06:49

    This is a great series! All of the kids I’ve known well at the early reader stage have loved these books. We started reading them aloud with both of my kids in first grade, and everything you said about them is correct. And they’re not *too* formulaic. 🙂


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