The Magic Tree House Chapter Book Series by Mary Pope Osborne: A Series Overview


10/26/2019

Series Stats

Author: Mary Pope Osborne.

Ages 5-10.

60 Books in original series.

Fun Facts
  • Osborne says that Jack and Annie are inspired by her own siblings.
  • Osborne and Sal Murdocca collaborate on research for each book. Murdocca finishes sketches before Osborne begins to write, so most of the time she’s writing to fit the illustrations into the story.
  • The idea for a magic tree house came to Osborne when she was walking through the woods with her husband. They saw a tree house, and Osborne instantly felt it would be the perfect setting for a time-traveling children’s story.

When Mary Pope Osborne first started writing the Magic Tree House children’s book series in 1992, she had one goal in mind: to help kids explore the wonders of the world and of the past through the power of reading.


“I feel as if these kids and I are all exploring the creative process together,” said Osborne, “Using our imaginations plus our reading and writing skills to take us wherever we want to go. This is true magic.’”


After 60 fiction books and 42 nonfiction companion books, referred to as Fact Trackers, The Magic Tree House has become an extremely popular, bestselling children’s book series. Osborne’s time-travelling tales have sold over 134 million copies around the world, and even been adapted into a jazz-themed musical and a Japanese animated film. 


Osborne was born in 1949 and grew up in a military family, reading books and playing with her siblings as the family moved from city to city. During this formative time, Osborne developed a love for adventure and exploring, becoming comfortable with moving every so often.

mary osborne author of the magic treehouse kids chapter books series

“When my dad finally retired to a small town in North Carolina,” Osborne said, “I nearly went crazy with boredom. I craved the adventure and changing scenery of our military life.”


After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1971, Osborne and a friend went traveling across Europe and Asia. She spent six weeks living in a cave in Crete, and explored Middle Eastern countries like Iran and Nepal. The trip abruptly ended when Osborne experienced blood poisoning, where she was forced to recover in a hospital for a few weeks.


During this time, she was comforted by J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings book trilogy. “To this day, my journey to ‘The East’ is tangled up in my mind with Frodo’s adventures,” said Osborne. 


 Osborne spent the next few years trying out different side jobs while traveling with her husband, actor Will Osborne. After the two settled down in the early eighties, Osborne discovered a love for writing and, in 1982, became a published author with the novel  Run, Run As Fast As You Can.


Ten years later, the first Magic Tree House story was published, and the rest is history. Merging her love for adventure with her desire to encourage children to learn and read, Osborne created a book series which equally celebrates reading and learning through experiences.


The series follows brother and sister Jack and Annie. In the first story, Dinosaurs Before Dark, the two siblings discover a tree house in the woods filled with books. After Jack looks through a book on dinosaurs, he wishes he could see one in real life. Just as soon as he says this out loud, the two are magically transported back in time to the Cretaceous period.

the magic tree house kids chapter book series by mary osborne


They soon encounter a wide variety of prehistoric creatures, ranging from a friendly Pteranodon to a ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex. All the while, Jack keeps notes about these animals and Annie tries to befriend them, all in an effort to learn more about these awe-inspiring creatures. 


During the adventure, Jack finds a medallion with the “M” engraved in it, starting a mystery that would be explored over the next few books. The two narrowly return home after a run-in with a T-Rex, wishing on a book about their hometown of Frog Creek, Pennsylvania. Thus began the long-running series, promising more historical adventures and intriguing mysteries to be solved. 


Each book in the series is written with a young audience in mind, ensuring the material is as exciting as it is educational. Every chapter or encounter has an equal amount of action and learning tied into it. 


In Dinosaurs Before Dark, Annie comes face to face with an Anatosaurus, who’s protecting a number of nests of babies. Jack uses the dinosaur book to find a way to help his sister, learning in the process that these dinosaurs lived in colonies and usually left one of them to protect the nests while the others hunted for food.


The Magic Tree House series has maintained this balance between exciting adventure and fact-based learning throughout its 60 books. Whether the subject be the Wild West like in Ghost Town at Sundown or exploring the jungles of India in Tigers at Twilight, these stories always aim to educate as much as they entertain.

 

The books are also written in a simple and descriptive style, with Osborne ensuring that the language is clear and easy to read for new or younger readers. The plotlines and actions are not difficult to follow, and the short chapter structure make it perfect for a beginners children book.

Each book also features illustrations from Sal Murdocca, who illustrates the eye-catching covers and accompanying pictures within the books. According to Osborne, many of the most popular titles are ones with interesting or exciting covers.


We spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about covers and titles and sort of trying to get the kids over the bridge into some meaty subject matter, but still sensationalize the covers a little bit to try to bring them in.”


After the 24th Magic Tree House book, Earthquake in the Early Morning, Osborne began to write a new series of stories that retroactively became known as the Merlin’s Missions series. These books are designed for more advanced readers, and as such deal with more complex topics and written with a more sophisticated language.


These children’s stories deal with fantasy worlds and scenarios, like Christmas in Camelot, or with specific historical figures, like Leonardo Da Vinci in Monday with a Mad Genius. While these chapter books have become the main focus of Osborne, she still occasionally writes stories in the vein of the original series, with one titled Narwhal on a Sunny Night scheduled to come out in January 2020.

the magic tree house kids chapter book series sold by the book bundler

In 2000, Osborne, along with her husband and sister, began to write the non-fiction companion book series Fact Trackers, formerly known as Magic Tree House Research Guides. These books serve as sources of extra information for kids who are interested in the topics explored in each book.


For example, Dinosaurs Before Dark has a companion book simply titled Dinosaurs, which goes into further depth about the prehistoric period and the creatures roaming the Earth at that time.  


Osborne wants these children’s stories to not only entertain, but to also educate its young audience. 


My ideal is they read our fiction, read our nonfiction, and then, if they still are interested, they go and read more difficult books about the subject,” said Osborne. “When they really hear about Shakespeare when they get to their teens, they'll feel they're already friends with Shakespeare...That imprints so much when you're seven and eight.”


According to Osborne, teachers have been some of the biggest inspirations for her work. “I owe everything to teachers, the ones who really got this series off the ground years ago by using it in classrooms,” Osborne said.


In order to give back to the teachers and students that have inspired her throughout the years, Osborne has started various educational programs. The Classroom Adventure program offers resources for teachers to incorporate Osborne’s series into their curriculum, mixing fun reading assignments with effective learning opportunities.


Osborne also started the Gift of Books program, where teachers from across the country can submit proposals to receive Magic Tree House and Fact Checker books for their classroom. 


Just as Mary Pope Osborne helps to give kids the magic of reading, so too does The Book Bundler. On The Book Bundler website, you can purchase a box of books in a variety of genres and age ranges, including books from the Magic Tree House series.

the magic tree house kids chapter books series

List of Entries in the Series:

The Magic Tree House Book Series

  1. Dinosaurs Before Dark
  2. The Knight of Dawn
  3. Mummies in the Morning
  4. Pirates Past Noon
  5. Night of the Ninjas
  6. Adventure on the Amazon
  7. Sunset of the Sabertooth
  8. Midnight on the Moon
  9. Dolphins at Daybreak
  10. Ghost Town at Sundown
  11. Lions at Lunchtime
  12. Polar Bears Past Bedtime
  13. Vacation Under The Volcano
  14. Day of the Dragon King
  15. Viking Ships at Sunrise
  16. Hour of the Olympics
  17. Tonight on the Titanic
  18. Buffalo Before Breakfast
  19. Tigers at Twilight
  20. Dingoes at Dinnertime
  21. Civil War on Sunday
  22. Revolutionary War on Wednesday
  23. Twister on Tuesday
  24. Earthquake in the Early Morning
  25. Stage Fright on a Summer Night
  26. Good Morning Gorillas
  27. Thanksgiving on Thursday
  28. High Tide in Hawaii
  29. A Big Day For Baseball
  30. Hurricane Heroes in Texas
  31. Warriors in Winter
  32. To the Future, Ben Franklin
  33. Narwhal on a Sunny Night (TBR)
  34. Merlin Mission Book Series
  35. Christmas in Camelot
  36. Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve
  37. Summer of the Sea Serpent
  38. Winter of the Ice Wizard
  39. Carnival at Candlelight
  40. Season of the Sandstorms
  41. Night of the New Magicians
  42. Blizzard of the Blue Moon
  43. Dragon of the Red Dawn
  44. Monday with a Mad Genius
  45. Dark Day in the Deep Sea
  46. Eve of the Emperor Penguin
  47. Moonlight on the Magic Flute
  48. A Good Night for Ghosts
  49. Leprechaun in Late Winter
  50. A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time
  51. A Crazy Day with Cobras
  52. Dogs in the Dead of Night
  53. Abe Lincoln At Last!
  54. A Perfect Time For Pandas
  55. Stallion by Starlight
  56. Hurry Up Houdini!
  57. High Time for Heroes
  58. Soccer on Sunday
  59. Shadow of the Shark 
  60. Balto of the Blue Dawn
  61. Night of the Ninth Dragon

Sources: 

https://ew.com/books/2017/02/21/magic-tree-house-25th-anniversary/

http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/pdf/AuthorBioMPOsborne.pdf

https://www.mthclassroomadventures.org/

https://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2012/0727/Magic-Tree-House-Author-Mary-Pope-Osborne-looks-back

 

Author Bio:

Sam Goodrich grew up reading to pass the time in school, seeing it as a way to entertain himself after a test. Now he's become a writer himself, hoping to expose the positive sides of media. When he's not writing about books, Sam is watching every movie, playing a few games, and trying to find ways to talk about them with anyone who will listen. His other work can be found on his portfolio website:  https://goodrichsamuel.wixsite.com/website


 


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