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Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House, No. 1) (Book & CD) Paperback – May 27, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 385 customer reviews
Book 1 of 54 in the Magic Tree House Series

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  • Step into a World of Adventure: The bestselling Magic Tree House series makes history fun by taking you right there, whether it's to France in the Middle Ages, the prairies of America, the moon, or beyond.


Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-3-- This enjoyable time-travel fantasy is a successful beginning chapter book. Jack and his younger sister find a tree house filled with books. When he wishes he could really see the Pteranodon pictured in one of them, it appears at the window. The children have been transported back to the Cretaceous period. They begin to explore and are soon threatened by a Tyrannosaurus. The Pteranodon comes to their rescue, and they figure out enough about the magic that carried them back in time to be able to use it to return home. There is plenty of suspense and magic here, and enough dinosaur information to please science buffs. Characterization is sketchy and older children will find the plot predictable, but readers just past the easy-to-read stage will find it satisfying. It should attract those who devour Ruth Chew's books. --Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

MARY POPE OSBORNE is the author of the New York Times number one bestselling Magic Tree House series. She and her husband, writer Will Osborne (author of Magic Tree House: The Musical), live in northwestern Connecticut with their three dogs. Ms. Osborne is also the coauthor of the companion Magic Tree House Fact Trackers series with Will, and with her sister, Natalie Pope Boyce.

SAL MURDOCCA has illustrated more than 200 children's trade and text books. He is also a librettist for children's opera, a video artist, an avid runner, hiker, and bicyclist, and a teacher of children's illustration at the Parsons School of Design. Sal lives and works in New York with his wife, Nancy.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; Pap/Com edition (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375844058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375844058
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (385 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,419,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on June 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
My name is George. I am eight years old, and I am in 3rd grade. Thetitle is Dinosaur Before Dark and the author's name is Mary PopeOshorne. Jack and Annie went to the Magic Tree House. So Jack and Annie saw a lot of books.Jack picked up one book and put it in his backpack. When Annie and Jack came out they saw a dinosaur from a long time ago. They saw a Pterandon flying around the Magic Tree House.Annie and Jack took a flight from the Pterandon. Jack and Annie went to the past where dinosaurs lived. The dinosaurs that Jack and Annie saw were Pterandon,Triceratops, duck-billed dinosaur, and Tyrannosaurs Rex. When they saw the Tyrannosaurs Rex, he tried to eat them.
I liked this book because they went back in time to explore where was the dinosaur live. Yes I will recommend to other children to read this book to the 3rd graders. I give this story 5 stars. END
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By A Customer on October 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book was recommended as a good read for our 8 year old who does not enjoy reading. We found this to be an interesting book that reads fast and keeps you hanging onto each word wondering what will happen next. All four of our children enjoyed this book (ages 4 1/2,6,8,and 12). We had to go out and get several other Magic Treehouse books. We can't wait to see where Annie and Jack go next.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book for my 4 year old who is wild about dinosaurs. He loves being read to and needed something a little more advanced than picture books. This book was a great start because the subject matter was something he was interested in, he could easily comprehend what was being read, and it could be finished in one sitting. There were enough pictures in the book to maintain his interest.
After reading this book, we have embarked on a new Magic Tree House adventure a day. My son looks forward to this time so much. Thank goodness the books are at the library! The books can be read by a parent in about a 30 minute sitting. I recorded Dinosaurs Before Dark on tape for my son to listen to any time since it is his favorite of the series so far.
Also to extend the reading activity at home, we created a Cretaceous period dinosaur diorama. My son loves acting out the story with his own dinosaurs...
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By A Customer on December 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
These are the books that finally got my 8 year son, who'd been very unwilling to read by himself, into reading. He likes the different settings for each book (dinosaurs, pirates, wild west) and that they're fast paced. To an adult, the books are too simplistic, but they're just right for the new reader who's looking for adventure/action stories with a little bit of mystery tossed in for good measure.
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By A Customer on November 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
My five year old son loved this book so much that after I finished reading it to him, he carried the book around with him for days. The story line catches the young person's attention quickly, and holds the attention from chapter to chapter. The suspense about what will happen to Jack in the dinosaur chase is just enough fear to keep the attention, but not so much that they want you to stop reading. When we finished one chapter he wanted to go straight to the next chapter. He was asking any grown up, even his big brother to read to him. If you have a child who you need to peek their interest in reading, this is a great book to start with.
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Format: Paperback
I thought my son was ready to try reading on his own and picked this book more or less at random. He read it in one sitting and asked for more. I bought him the second and third books in the series and he read them in the same day. I bought the rest of the series and had to ration them out one book a day or he would have read them all at once. Now he's a regular littlebook worm and turns off the TV and puts away his toys every time I give him a new book.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book originally for a 7 year old, but then my 4 year who was just getting into reading picked it up and started reading it. After that the 10 started reading it! There was a big battle over who got to read the book. I ended up buying the whole series. They read them on the way to school, on the way home, whenever there was time to pick up the book. All 3 kids loved it! I recommemd this book, and series highly!
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Format: Paperback
I ordered a few books of this series for my six-year-old son. I won't be ordering any more. I'm placing my review on this book, because this one was the worst of the three we bought.

There is potential in the concept of two children returning to various bygone eras, and experiencing them first hand. The character of Jack, if further developed, could be a good role model for kids interested in science, history, and research. But the character of Annie doesn't work at all. I think she is intended to be a foil for Jack's more serious, contemplative personality, but if she had been portrayed as smarter this would have worked better.

The plots in this series are surprisingly dull. My son halfheartedly suffered through the first read-through of each of the books we bought, but he doesn't want to read them again. We then checked out "Dinosaur Habitat" by Helen V. Griffith from the library, and he asked to read that book at least fifty times.

Osborne underestimates the intelligence of her audience. On occasion, the stories seem to telescope into Annie's eye view, and a lot of ink that could have been devoted to the various interesting aspects of dinosaurs was instead devoted to their relative "niceness".

My most serious objection, however, is the bad grammar. Do not believe the notion that your kids need their sentences cut into pieces in order to read them! Beginning readers pay a lot of attention to structure. A well written, grammatically correct sentence is filled with structural cues which help new readers decipher unfamiliar words. "Dinosaurs Before Dark" contains so many errors, I consider it worse than useless as a teaching aid.

I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, but I want to warn other parents who might be attracted to this series as I was.

* We did enjoy the illustrations by Sal Murdocca, and only wish they had been in color.
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