One warm June day, Jack and Annie, siblings living in Frog Creek, PA, receive a message via carrier pigeon. The message is from their friend Teddy, asking them to come to Glastonbury, England immediately, their help is needed.
When Jack and Annie arrive in Glastonbury, they are met by Teddy who tells them they have arrived on June 4, 1944, two days before the D-Day invasion at Normandy, France by the Allies forces and the beginning of the end for the Nazis.
Teddy and Kathleen, who iare really young enchanters from Camelot, have been made agents in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) by Winston Churchill to do undercover work in countries occupied by the Nazis. But now, Kathleen is still in Normandy, France and needs to be rescued, but they only clues to her whereabouts is a coded riddle she sent Teddy by carrier pigeon.
Jack and Annie's job is to parachute into France and find Kathleen within 24 hours - they need to be gone by the time the invasion begins. Jack and Annie are told to try to find members of the French Resistance to help them, but to avoid the Nazis, who are everywhere. But when they land in a French field, they are spotted and chased by Nazis using a dog. Jack and Annie hide in a barn, calm the dog down and are found by a man and his wife, whose sons were members of the Resistance.
The couple feeds them, and help to figure out the riddle from Kathleen, then they give Jack and Annie two bikes and some money, and send them on their way. The road to Kathleen is fraught with both friend and foe, but eventually the two find her and now, they must figure out how to get her back to England. It seems Teddy forgot to give them the magic wand Kathleen needs, since her innate magic seems to have disappeared. Not only that, but Kathleen has acquired some fellow travelers she is determined to get out of France, a group of very young Jewish orphans, which means a bigger, more noticeable plane will be needed for the rescue. Oh yes, and a large vehicle to get all of them to the pickup point. And there is only a few hours left before the invasion begins, with all its bombing and shooting.
Can everyone be rescued in time and will Jack and Annie find their way back to Frog Creek?
This is an interesting chapter book. It is longer than the previous Magic Tree House books and the subject matter is much darker. And since the magic wand was forgotten, Jack, Annie and Kathleen have to rely on their own skills to solve problems and figure out how to escape France before the invasion.
Osborne gently introduces the reader to Hitler and the Nazis, and though she never uses the word Holocaust, Teddy does tell Jack and Annie that "[the Nazis] have killed countless innocent civilians, including millions of Jewish people." (pg 25) This may sound a little watered down, but consider the age of the reader and that for many this may very well be an introduction to that "darkest hour" of modern history.
i didn't expect to really like this book, but I did. With a willing suspension of disbelief, I found the story compelling and exciting, and I felt it was very clear that Osborne is comfortable with her characters and knows her audience. Things do work out nicely in the end, which is OK when you have magic on your side (and yes, there was some surprising magic used in the end).
At the back of the book, there is a "Track the Facts Behind Jack and Annie's Mission" that includes lots of information ranging from the use of pigeons in war, the German Enigma machine, and other interesting facts, all age appropriately described.
Besides the colorful cover illustration, showing Jack, in all his fear, and sister Annie parachuting into France, there are some wonderful black and white double page illustrations throughout the book, all done by Magic Tree House illustrator Sal Murdocca.
I have to confess, I have never read a Magic Tree House book before this. Sure, my Kiddo and all her cousins read and loved them when they were in elementary school. So did the kids in my classes, which made me happy since most of them were not yet reading at grade level. But I did hear Mary Pope Osborne speak at a BEA Children's Author Breakfast one year, so I knew that author Mary Pope Obsorne is a very generous donor of her books to kids who might not otherwise get copies of them. And I could help but wonder how many kids have become readers thanks to the Magic Tree House books?
You can read a two chapter sample of Danger in the Darkest Hour HERE
This book is recommended for readers age 7+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL
Thanks to World Cup Soccer, the new Magic Tree House book, Soccer on Sunday, has the series on top of The Children’s Book Review’s best selling kids series list.
Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.
Today’s "signing a book" high five is from one Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Magic Tree House series.
I love folks who get their audience. They understand the purpose of creating content for children. They don’t write with hubris. They're not fancy -- "look how well I can write stuff" is not going on. The writing is invisible. I love an author who is about disappearing so that kids jump into world created by the author.
Hope the magic of disappearing helps. We are winding down now. I hope as you reach for your goal (you are almost, almost there!)you take time to be glad for the journey. Snap! Snap! Snap! I hope your stuff is as hot as Ms. Osborne’s.
See y’all tomorrow for another steaming hot cuppa.
Hey this is just a good thought and I believe it will help you on this journey:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
— Mark Twain
Mary Pope Osborne, longtime friend and partner of First Book, is offering her readers the opportunity to apply directly for free collections of her beloved titles through her very own Classroom Adventures Program. These books are provided for by grants which Ms. Osborne awards through her Gift of Books Program within Classroom Adventures and through the deep discounts First Book is able to negotiate with publishers.
Titles in Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series come with non-fiction Fact Trackers, allowing students to experience historically and scientifically significant facts throughout the storyline. Jack and Annie, the two main characters, travel through time and experience various places and historical events. This creates a fun and effective environment for educators to teach these events to students while achieving multiple core standards across the subjects. Teachers report back that using the Magic Tree House series in this manner truly inspires students to read and enjoy learning!
In 2011, Ms. Osborne provided Magic Tree House books to every 4th grader in Newark and has recently donated thousands of books to 3rd and 4th graders in other cities as well. Her Gift of Books program through First Book has provided more than 800 grants and 220,000 books to students across the country.
Teachers can access lesson plans and other free resources on the Classroom Adventures website that may be used with Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House titles and then receive those titles at steep discounts from First Book.
A new partnership with Share My Lesson, featuring free lesson plans developed by educators, program leaders, and available to all, will also continue to expand First Book’s outreach to under-served populations.
The post Mary Pope Osborne supports First Book through Classroom Adventures appeared first on First Book Blog.
For graphic novel fans there's a new Zita the Spacegirl book from Ben Hatke, and, for younger readers, Mo Willems has the bestselling duo Elephant & Piggie meeting a new friend. Fans of Dork Diaries, Magic Tree House and Spirit Animals will be super excited to see new books, too.
From shamrocks to leprechauns to fiddle music to the color green, these three books have St. Patrick's Day (March, 17) covered.
Mary Pope Osborne, author of the wildly popular Magic Tree House series, and Random House Children’s Books are teaming up with First Book to provide 4,000 books to children in 27 Recovery District schools in New Orleans. On Monday and Tuesday of next week, Ms. Osborne will personally visit with and read to children from six of the schools that are receiving books.
In anticipation of the New Orleans Jazz Festival that begins later that week, Ms. Osborne and Random House will be donating new copies of Magic Tree House #42: A Good Night for Ghosts, in which Magic Tree House characters Jack and Annie travel back in time to meet a young unknown boy named Louis Armstrong and encourage him to share his gift of music with the world.
Mary Pope Osborne said, “When my husband Will and I visited New Orleans shortly after Katrina, we were tremendously moved and inspired by the spirit of the city and its people. New Orleans has always been one of our favorite cities in the world, and on that trip we promised all the kids we met that Jack and Annie would soon visit New Orleans in the Magic Tree House and have an adventure with a young Louis Armstrong. We are now very happy to share that adventure—and the magic of reading—with them.”
Check back next week to hear from Mary Pope Osborne herself!
Mary Pope Osborne reads to New Orleans school children.
Mary Pope Osborne, author of the popular children’s book series, Magic Tree House, and Random House Children’s Books teamed up with First Book to provide 4,000 books to children in need in 27 Recovery School District schools in New Orleans this month. On April 19th and 20th, Osborne visited with and read to children from six of the schools that received books. She also spoke about her enthusiasm for working with First Book and her inspiration for writing on WWLTV Eyewitness Morning News.
Ms. Osborne said, “Working with First Book in New Orleans was an inspiring adventure. Together we visited a number of schools and put new books into the hands of young readers. Our shared belief is that reading provides the path toward greater possibilities for the future — and every child deserves the opportunity to set out on the journey.”
Will Osborne, Marlene Pete (Treasurer, First Book-Greater New Orleans), Lynetta Rhodes (Co-Chair, First Book-Greater New Orleans) and Kyle Zimmer (President and CEO, First Book) cheer Mary Pope Osborne as she accepts a proclamation from the mayor in her honor.
Ms. Osborne donated new copies of Magic Tree House #42: A Good Night for Ghosts, in which Magic Tree House characters Jack and Annie travel back in time to meet a young boy named Louis Armstrong and encourage him to share his gift of music with the world.
This just in from Random House:
Random House Children’s Books and Kids Crooked House Team Up to Host Magic Tree House Essay Contest
Grand-Prize Winner Receives Custom Designed Kids Crooked House Playhouse Inspired by Mary Pope Osborne’s bestselling Magic Tree House Book Series
NEW YORK, NY – April 26, 2010 - Random House Children’s Books and Kids Crooked House are kicking off an essay contest for kids to promote adventure, imagination, and creativity: themes that are all reflected in Mary Pope Osborne’s bestselling Magic Tree House series. The grand-prize winner will be awarded their own Magic Tree House: a custom designed playhouse by Kids Crooked House, creators of the most whimsical playhouses for children. Ten runner-up winners will receive a Magic Tree House book autographed by Mary Pope Osborne, beloved author of the wildly popular New York Times bestselling series that has now sold nearly 70 million copies.
The Magic Tree House series, first published in 1992, follows brother and sister duo Jack and Annie as they journey back in time via a magic tree house, traveling to exotic places and meeting famous historical figures. Children interested in entering the essay contest must submit a response to this question: Write about an adventure you would like to have in the Magic Tree House. Where would you go and what would you do? Mary Pope Osborne will review the submissions and choose the winner.
Essay entry forms are available for download at MagicTreeHouse.com and must be mailed to Random House offices at 1745 Broadway New York, NY 10019. Entries will be accepted from April 27 through October 31, 2010. The winners will be announced in mid December 2010.
“There is nothing more exciting than a child using their imagination and this essay contest is a great outlet. No one knows boundless imagination better than Mary Pope Osborne, a truly creative and artistic author. Kids Crooked House is honored to work with Ms. Osborne and a partner like Random House to help make this an exciting endeavor for many children,” said Glen Halliday, creative director and CEO for Kids Crooked House.
Kids Crooked House is inspired by, and infused with, Maine and its natural wonders. Glen and his cousin, Jeff Leighton, built their first crooked house because they loved being outside and wanted their kids to love it, too. Glen and Jeff’s goal is to encourage children to use their imaginations as wildly as possible, and with the diverse range of playhouses Kids Crooked House offers, it isn’t very hard to do.
“I’m so excited about this contest, knowing it will inspire an adventure and allow children to be as creative as they dare. I can’t wait to read their ideas, and learn about where they would like to go! This essay contest touches on my main goal in writing the Magic Tree House books: to encourage children to go on adventures using their own imaginations,” said Mary Pope Osborne.
Random House: Elizabeth Zajac | 212.782.8530 | email@example.com
Kids Crooked House: Kerri Moran | 404.664.2090 | firstname.lastname@example.org
I am sharing this information in honor of ALL
the Magic Tree House
books that were checked out to students starting the TAKS test tomorrow. If they finish early, they will have Jack and Annie's adventures to look forward too.
Mary Pope Osborne's series continues to hold a special place in the hearts of the children in my school district.
RandomHouse Children’s Books and Kids Crooked House Team Up
to HostMagic Tree House Essay Contest
Grand-Prize Winner Receives Custom Designed Kids CrookedHouse Playhouse
Inspired by Mary Pope Osborne’s bestselling Magic TreeHouse Book Series
NEW YORK, NY – April26, 2010 - Random House Children’s Books and Kids Crooked House are kickingoff an essay contest for kids to promote adventure, imagination, andcreativity: themes that are all reflected in Mary Pope Osborne’sbestselling Magic Tree House series.The grand-prize winner will be awarded their own Magic Tree House: a customdesigned playhouse by Kids Crooked House, creators of the most whimsicalplayhouses for children. Ten runner-up winners will receive a Magic Tree Housebook autographed by Mary Pope Osborne, beloved author of the wildly popular New York Times bestselling series that hasno
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By: Nisha T.,
Blog: First Book
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Give the Gift of Reading this Father’s Day
Don’t forget to wish Dad a Happy Father’s Day this Sunday, June 20th. If you’re still stumped for a last-minute gift, consider making and online donation to First Book in honor of your dad or whomever you choose. After making a donation you can send him an e-card to remind Dad how special he is.
Big Universe: Read, Create and Share Children’s Books Online
This site is a great resource for reading, writing and learning. The site offers book suggestions, reading quizzes, and even the opportunity for kids to create their own children’s books. Parents and educators can even help kids share their creations with other students using the site’s virtual bookshelves.
Magic Tree House Series Goes Digital
Now fans of Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House Series can cherish them forever as e-books. All forty-three titles have been converted to digital versions. Random House is now proud to offer this classic children’s book series in print, audio and digital.
4th Cheerios New Author Contest
Have you ever dreamed of seeing your ideas in print? Through Cheerios’ Spoonfuls of Stories New Author Contest aspiring authors have the chance to submit their children’s books in the hopes of being selected as the winner. The winning story gets published and packaged in Cheerios boxes and released for purchase as well.
More Tips from Reading Rockets to Curb Summer Learning Loss
Keeping kids engaged in learning activities over the summer can be a challenge. Here are some more great ideas to keep kids interested and having fun while they learn. From planting a garden and neighborhood book clubs to interactive websites and writing activities, this list is sure to keep your child busy during the summer months.
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Bloggers, please add your link below. Readers, I hope you visit all of today's posters.
Osborne, Mary Pope and Natalie Pope Boyce. 2010. Rags and Riches: Kids in the Time of Charles Dickens.
(Magic Tree House Research Guide
series #22)New York: Random House.
This is the companion book to A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time
, a historical fantasy romp through Dickens' A Christmas Carol
,which is why it has the subtitle, Kids in the Time of Charles Dickens
, when "Kids in the Victorian Era" might seem more logical.
Charles Dickens lived from 1812 - 1870, largely in the Victoria Era. Queen Victoria reigned from 1837- 1901. Rich or poor, life was difficult for Britain's children in those days. Rich children suffered from serious diseases and were raised largely apart from their parents. Boys were sent away to strict schools while girls studied at home with a governess those subjects which were thought most likely to win them a suitable husband - French, dancing, drawing, music. Of course, they were still much better off than the poor children and street children who filled the streets of London. They slept outside in rags or lived in debtors' prisons or squalid housing. They often worked in dangerous factories for long hours with little or no pay - beginning as young as five years old! Cholera and typhoid were epidemic. Life for a poor child in the time of Charles Dickens was wretched. Rags to Riches
explains all these facets of Victorian Era life and more, with liberal use of sketches and period photographs.
It is doubtful that any child can read the accounts in the chapter, "Jobs for Poor Kids," and not be affected. Imagine life as a climbing boy
, often only five or six years old,
Since they were small, they could squeeze through narrow parts of the chimney.
Climbing boys climbed to the top of the chimney and swept the coal dust out on their way back down. They got cuts and bruises from the jagged bricks. To toughen up their skin, salt water was rubbed into it.
If the boys got scared and stopped climbing, the chimney sweeps jabbed their feet with pins or lit fires to keep them moving. At times climbing boys got burned or stuck in the chimneys and suffocated.
Quite a different reality from the friendly, Bert, of Mary Poppins fame!
A children's highlight from the Victoria Era? The birth of the modern children's picture book - Beatrix Potter's illustrated Tales of Peter Rabbit
. Of course, without money, poor children likely only glimpsed the tiny little books through shop windows.
This is not an easy topic for which to create a research guide. A chronological approach does not work well, and the many aspects of a child's life are almost too large in scope for a book of this small scale. Still, Pope has created a semblance of order, dividing the topic into six chapters: 'Hard Times for Kids," "What Charles Dickens Saw," "The London of Dickens," "Jobs for Poor Kids," Rich Kids," and "How
ALL RIGHT!!! A manly man named Cy has responded to our cry of distress! Our blog is danger of a hostile takeover by the girls of Mrs. Smith's 4th-grade class at Metrolina Scholar's Academy. (see yesterday's post) Let's hear Cy's brave response to this brazen attack:
hey, its cy, from Mrs. Smith's third grade. I'm not letting any girls take over.boys in Mrs. Smith's class(fourth and third). write in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Very good, Cy! But did he just stop there? NO!! He got out his manly pencil and wrote two reviews!!
Star Wars Pop-up by Matthew Reinheart
If you don't know much about the Star Wars galaxy, this is the book for you. The pop-ups are huge. The book has almost everything about the Star Wars galaxy. but I think that the working light sabers are the coolest. I recommend this book.
Sardine 5 by Emmanuel Guibert
Don't turn this book away Just because the main character is a girl, this series is full of missing brains to scamcorders. when I read this book, I was laughing all night. If you have questions, read the book.
OK, Cy!! You've made want to read the Sardine series! We've had them at our library, but they're checked out now. Maybe I'll get it from one of the others.
But wait!! Cy was not the only boy to stride out bravely to defend our blog; Evan also came forth with a review:
Magic Tree House: Hour of the Olympics by Mary Pope Osborne
Jack and Annie get to go to ancient greece. I liked it because I like the olympics and history. I recommend it for people who like to learn because I learned that girls use to not be able to watch the olympics in ancient greece.
Good work, Evan! I like the Olympics too. Did you get to watch much of it? If you read the book You Wouldn't Want to Be a Greek Athlete: Races You'd Rather Not Run by Michael Ford (I reviewed it on January 11, 2008), you'd see why girls couldn't watch the ancient Olympics!!
But we need more, guys! We had five girls write in yesterday and two today. We need to hear from three boys to match their numbers--more to outnumber them! And what about the rest of you guys out there? Are you going to let your fellow boys be over run?
Calling for reinforcements,
PS--If you write in, you'll not only defend the blog, you'll be able to get a free book from the Imaginon or Matthews libraries!
By: Bruce K. Hollingdrake,
A post by contributor Kim Allen-Niesen, co-founder of Bookstore People
For information on becoming a contributor click here..
The Magic Treehouse
Many families are saving money by sharply curtailing their vacation budget, but that shouldn’t mean a summer without adventure. We spent a summer at home discovering our city through the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. Each book stars Jack and Annie, a sibling duo, who find a tree house that spins them to a new location and time with each book. Throughout the summer, we planned an excursion or activity that matched the subject of the book. When Jack and Annie traveled to the Cretaceous period, we went to a Natural History Museum. They met ninjas in ancient Japan; we ate sushi at a Japanese restaurant. The kids flew to old England to help Shakespeare stage a play; we attended an outdoor Shakespeare production. Revolutionary War on Wednesday perfectly compliments 4th of July celebrations.
As a bookseller, make the most of this series while helping financially strapped families enjoy local attractions. Take a moment to create a list of local excursions that could pair up with a book. Consider local museums and cultural festivals many of which offer kids programs in the summer. What better way to encourage “buy local” than to recommend a book and a family excursion in your hometown? The family will love you for helping plan the summer, the merchant will love you for recommending her venue, and you’re doing what booksellers thrive on—creating community.
No location for a theme, the Magic Tree House website has suggestions for every book, plus computer activities, perfect for the harried parent, just pass along the information. In any event, it isn’t necessary to plan something for every book, just enough to give families the idea that reading can be the source of fun for everyone. Here are some suggestions:
Dinosaurs Before Dark – Natural History Museum
Mummies in the Morning – Egyptian art in a museum
Night of the Ninjas – Shinto Temple, Japanese restaurant, Japanese grocery store
Afternoon on the Amazon – Conservatory or jungle type garden, zoo
Sunset of the Sabertooth – Natural History Museum with fossilized bones, zoo
Midnight on the Moon – any space exhibit
Dolphins at Daybreak – beach, aquarium, aquatic park
Ghost Town at Sundown – hoe down, square dancing, hay ride
Lions at Lunch Time – zoo
Polar Bears past Bedtime – zoo or aquatic park
Day of the Dragon King - Chinatown, Chinese restaurant or grocery store or cooking a Chinese recipe together
Tigers at Twilight – zoo
Revolutionary War on Wednesday – 4th of July celebrations
Stage Fright on a Summer Night – kid’s theatre production, Shakespeare production
Good Morning, Gorillas – zoo
High Tide in Hawaii – Gidget movie
Once kids start the series, they are addicted and read all 28 books. These are designed for beginning independent readers; just the age to enjoy reading alone and discovering the benefit of reading go beyond the book. The series is truly gender neutral, both boys and girls enjoy it. The books don’t have to be read in order, but there is a background story of Jack and Annie helping Morgan le Fay, King Arthur’s sister, create a library of books found throughout history. Some of the stories have accompanying Research Guides, so if a young customer loves a subject, direct her to the non-fiction companion.
Helping kids get hooked on the Magic Tree House series will sell books, encourage emerging readers by showing them that reading is more than the book, and gain the appreciation of the parents who you’ve helped to plan the summer.
Kim Allen-Niesen is co-founder of Bookstore People, a blog that reviews independent bookstores to encourage people to visit them and shop. In addition, books and various literary topics are discussed.
By: Chandler A.,
Blog: First Book
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Last Thursday, June 25th, I was lucky enough to join the President, the First Lady, and hundreds of Congressional family members to prepare 15,000 backpacks with books and other items for the children of servicemen and women. With the incredibly generous support of Random House Children’s Books and Disney Publishing Worldwide, First Book was able to donate 30,000 books (two for each backpack!) with a retail value of almost $250,000.
The service event highlighted ‘United We Serve,’ President Obama’s call to all Americans to engage in service projects and create meaningful impact in their towns and communities. The ‘United We Serve’ summer service initiative began June 22nd and runs through the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11th. The initiative is being led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency dedicated to fostering service in communities across the country.
Curious about the books the President and the First Lady helped us pack? Here’s the list — full of great choices for your own summer reading!
- Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee
- Magic Tree House #28: High Tide in Hawaii by Mary Pope Osborne
- The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
- The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
- Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud
- Holes by Louis Sachar