Top positive review
41 people found this helpful
Excellent New Addition to the Series or Standalone Children's Book
on October 20, 2008
I have read many of the Magic Treehouse books while recently "studying" for my 6-year old's Magic Treehouse Birthday Party. She really loves this series, reads them ravenously, and plays "Jack and Annie" constantly with her friends. I read around 15 of them, up until now the first part of the series (this is my first of the Merlin Missions), and have found the books to be cute, quick and entertaining.
I have never found anything in them that concerns me for my daughter to be reading, which is more than I can say for many of the series out there for young children, whose main characters are often wisecracking, sibling-hating and constantly in trouble. I love the way Jack and Annie play together and protect one another, even while they don't always agree and have different styles and strengths.
In any case, regarding this specific book, I think it is a wonderful addition to the Magic Tree House Series, or if you child is new to the series, an excellent introduction. My daughter just got it for her birthday.. and I gave it a quick read because now that I've read so many, I wanted to see what the Merlin Missions were all about.
I was quite impressed. This book seemed a little bit more developed and engrossing than some of the early stories. Not in a way that is too difficult for kids, but just more substantial. It was a good mix of fantasy and fact, like usual, with easily digestible facts and lessons, in this case on penguins and the Antarctic. This book was doubly interesting in that it was a culmination of a 4-book set (the magic treehouse books have 4 book sets that circle around a particular theme or type of mission -- in this one they are trying to find 4 secrets of happiness for Merlin who is exceedingly sad and have been asked by Morgan le Fay, the owner of the treehouse, to help). The secrets they share -- nature, curiosity, compassion and taking care of others -- provide just lovely messages for kids.
There are a few scary parts, when they fall down a cliff, or when a predatory bird is attacking a penguin, but Osborne has a gift for having adventure in her stories without the "scary" aspect being too much for kids. My daughter will hardly watch anything these days because of mean or scary characters, and that extends to some books -- but these stories always engage her without frightening her.
If your kids already like the Magic Tree House series, definitely add this one to their collection. If MTH is new for your children, this is a great one to start with. It stands alone nicely (she has a short prologue which explains things well up to this point), and may get your child interested in reading the earlier books. What's so great about Magic Tree House is that it is wonderful for boys and for girls. And it really creates a gentle exposure to history and character often natural science, but in a fun way. And for those kids that love the topic of the book, there are non-fiction research guides, very easily accessible for 5-6 years and up with lots more information on those topic (for this book, the companion research guide is Penguins and Antarctica (Magic Tree House Rsrch Gdes(R)).
This book makes a wonderful gift for any early to mid-level reader. If your child is an early reader, it would be great to read with them. For a mid-level reader, they can spread it out a chapter at a time, or like my daughter, tear through it in an afternoon. Great job, Mary Pope Osborne. Please keep them coming!!!