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News in Youth Services

Monday, May 22, 2017

Magic Tree House turns 25!

As my children were growing up, our favorite read-aloud series was Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne.  They loved to hear the next adventure that Jack and Annie were going on. Adventures filled with Vikings, dinosaurs, mummies and volcanoes (just to name a few).  My children would beg me to "read just one more chapter" during bedtime.  Once we finished the latest edition, we would wait with baited breath for the next one to be published.
Have you ever wondered where Mary Pope Osborne got the idea of a magic tree house from?  It's not the first thing you think of when you hear the word "magic."  Random House Publishers had wanted her to do a book series.  Mary thought it would be fun to write about time travel for kids but she was stuck on what magical object would cause the time travel.  The idea came to her almost a later when she was in Pennsylvania with her husband staying in a log cabin.  They were taking a walk in the woods and noticed a tree house.  It was instant inspiration.  
Osborne's book titles always include alliteration and a mention of the subject, time and date:  Dinosaurs Before Dark, Good Morning Gorilla and Lions at Lunchtime are just a few examples.  She represents time by using the days of the week, months of the year, seasons and anything that implies time (Hurry Up, Houdini! being one of my favorite titles).  The series includes the original Magic Tree House books, the Merlin Missions (meant for older readers), and Fast Trackers, the nonfiction companions to the fictional books.  Did you know there are 54 Magic Tree House books and 34 Fast Trackers?  That is amazing!  The latest one will be out on August 1st, titled A Big Day for Baseball  (about baseball great, Jackie Robinson)  and the Fast Tracker:  Baseball.

Sal Murdocca is the illustrator for the Magic Tree House books.  His book covers are incredible.  He

does his own research to develop the cover which then goes to Mary Pope Osborne, the editor and the art director for their input and approval.  Several different covers are drawn before a final one is selected.  Interesting fact:  the cover is created and goes out for publicity before the book is even written! 
According to Entertainment Weekly, there is going to be a Magic Tree House movie!  Christmas in Camelot is being made into film by Lionsgate Entertainment.  It's at the beginning stages, but look for it in the next year or two.  So in the meantime, check out the series.  There is the right adventure for just about anyone!

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