Book Review: Magic Tree House (multi volume)

Earlier, I reviewed the first book in Mary Pope Osborne’s series.  With a little one at home, I’ve been delving into some of the children’s books that came out after my childhood so that I can be ready with recommendations. I purchased a collection of these books at a consignment sale and decided to give them a read, since even my high school students refer to them as a formative part of their childhood.

The series follows Jack and his sister Annie as they discover a treehouse that takes them wherever they want to go—provided they find the location in the book and then make a wish about it.

Today’s review highlights several titles in the series:

Book #2: The Knight at Dawn
The morning after discovering the tree house, neither sibling can sleep, so they leave home while it’s still dark and sneak into the tree house, where Annie wishes to see a real knight. They find a mysterious “M” medallion and realize that someone named “M” is also traveling using the Magic Tree House and books. I enjoyed this book because it took illustrated the dangerous side of the world of knights.

Book #3: Because I bought several of these books at a consignment sale, I was disappointed to see that book 3 was missing; instead, I had two copies of book 4 (one of which I gave away during a contest here on my blog). What I gather from reading book 4 is that the siblings travel to ancient Egypt, where a cat helps them escape.

Book #4: Pirates Past Noon
Jack and Annie can hardly wait for the rain to stop so they can go to the tree house and resume their travels. They do so armed with the “M” medallion, Jack’s book, and Annie’s sense of adventure. It’s a cold and rainy day, so of course they are intrigued when they see a book with a sunny beach. They inadvertently wish to be on the beach (haven’t they learned by now?) when a group of pirates appear. They become involved in a pirate treasure hunt, though the violence and danger was a bit downplayed, even for a children’s book. A parrot looks out for them, and at the end of the story, we learn the identity of the parrot, the cat, the knight, and the pteranodon from previous books—the same identity as the mysterious “M.” I won’t spoil it for you. I do find myself craving a few more details to help me become immersed in the setting, the way I felt when I read about the knights in a previous book.

Book #5: Night of the Ninjas
The spoiler referenced in my review of book 4 is revealed to the reader as a prologue summarizing the adventures from the first books and identifying their fellow traveler. Spoiler below.

The traveler is Morgan Le Fay, of Arthurian legend. She is identified as a “magical librarian.” At the beginning of this tale, they find a distress note from Morgan and decide to follow an open book in hopes of helping her. As usual, Jack wants to wait and research the time period, but Annie jumps right in, once again leaving them unprepared for their newest adventure.

As they travel back to old Japan, they learn the way of ninjas, becoming one with nature. They find the first of “four things” that Morgan asked them to find—a moonstone. And the mouse that they found in the beginning seems suspiciously relevant, staying in the tree house for the two to resume their quest in the morning.

So far, this was my favorite of the series, as the characters seem to be developing and learning a bit, and they’re involved in a long-term quest rather than dappling in random time travel. Even though the series is for kids and predictable, I like how clues are woven throughout to help eager readers “figure it out” before it’s revealed. I have more books in this series and will review them from time to time as I read them between “grown-up” books : – )

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