[Book Review] Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House, #1) by Mary Pope Osborne

Where did the tree house come from?

Before Jack and Annie can find out, the mysterious tree house whisks them back to the prehistoric past. Now they have to figure out how to get home. Can they do it before dark… or will they become a dinosaur’s dinner?

Dinosaurs Before Dark is the first book in the wildly popular (and still ongoing!) Magic Tree House series. Though I don’t quite count it among my favorites, it had a huge presence in my early childhood and impact on my formative years. I cannot possibly recommend this series enough to young readers. It’s equal parts education and entertaining, introducing children to both history and fantasy through the magic of books. There’s even a nonfiction companion series, Magic Tree House Research Guides (later retitled Magic Tree House Fact Trackers).

In Dinosaurs, Jack and Annie, a seven- and -eight-year-old brother-sister duo from Frog Creek, Pennsylvania, discover a mysterious treehouse in the woods near their home. When they climb up to investigate, they find it abandoned, but filled with books. And as they’re going through these books, an unwitting wish from Jack sends them back to prehistory, where they find themselves face to face with dinosaurs. The rest of the book involves the children trying to return home, but it sets up the larger plot of the Magic Tree House series’ first four books–that is, Jack and Annie’s mission to unravel the mystery of the tree house.

Like I said, I highly recommend the series, and I look forward to rereading it this year. Not to mention checking out the two or three books that have been published since I last revisited the series!

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