Customer Reviews: Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-4: Dinosaurs Before Dark, The Knight at Dawn, Mummies in the Morning, and Pirates Past Noon
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When My son was younger these were among his most favorite books. He made sure we saved these so he could pass them on to his little brother to read to him once he is old enough. These are simple chapter books. They range in page count from about 68 to 96 pages I believe so they are relatively quick reads that can be read in a few nights depending upon your child's reading level. This set contains the first four books in the series:





The First, Dinosaurs Before Dawn tells the story of how jack and Annie (the series stars) first find the Magic Tree House and learn how the books can transport them to magical lands and worlds. The first takes them to the Cretaceous period. Through clues and reading the book in hand they learn and discover things about dinosaurs.

In the "Knight at Dawn", jack and Annie are transported back to medieval times. They find a castle and go exploring and find themselves on the run from the castle guards and worry they will never get back to the magic tree house.

"mummies In the Morning" Jack has always been fascinated by and pick up a book that has them traveling back to ancient Egypt. Jack and Annie enter a pyramid and get lost inside. Inside they find the ghost of an Egyptian queen whose been trapped inside the pyramid for ages and Jack and Annie try to set her free.

"Pirates Past Noon" Jack and Annie picture a wonderful beach and are transported to the times of Pirates where they are capture by Captain Bones who is seeking the treasure of Captain Kidd.

These books are geared for kids from the 2nd to the 5th grade I would say. They are entertaining, imaginative reads that help teach kids about history while being fun to read as well. Some have commented that the writing, technically speaking is weak. That may be in some spots but I feel this is mostly intentional as they are writing for 6 - 10 year olds.

These books are really a joy to read and I loved reading them along with my son. I'm glad we saved them!
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on December 14, 2003
This is the first series of chapter books my son actually wanted to read by himself. While many of the reviewers complain about grammatical errors, etc., I feel these can be overlooked as these delightful stories keep a child's interest from start to finish. Each chapter is fairly short and has frequent pictures (a must for beginning chapter readers). The main characters have all sorts of adventures and the reader actually learns some historical facts. While the books are probably too easy for advanced readers, they should appeal to most beginning chapter readers. I think it is very important that children think reading is fun and the books from The Magic Tree House Series provide a wonderful introduction to chapter book reading!
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on January 4, 2005
Ok, I'll say up front that these are great stories for kids to read. I've been reading them to my 4 year old for some time, and the pace, characters, and action are all perfectly suited. Each of these books grabs his interest and makes him excited about reading more.

The problem I've got with the series is the author's skillset with the language. Some folks may want to overlook this based on the content alone; I feel this view is simple and potentially detrimental to the child. For lots of kids these are first readers, and help develop a child's view of language structure. They're going to start off mimicking the writing 'style' the see; in the case of these books, they'll be seeing a lot of poorly defined (or non-defined) paragraphs, sentence fragments, and grammatical errors. They'll be seeing poorly written examples that will help establish the basis of bad writing habits which may take a lot of work to erase. Whoever edited these books needs a new career.

That said, we skip around the series quite a bit. The latest books are comparatively excellent as far as language mechanics. There's a definite progression in writing *quality* throughout the series, and content is high for all. I just wish Pope-Osborne had taken a creative writing class or two in the beginning.

If you're reading these books to/with your child, you can do some on-the-fly editing. If your child has enough language skill to spot the mistakes, they'll be fine. Otherwise, you might want to proceed with a little caution, or skip ahead in the series.
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on May 19, 2008
I have mixed feelings about this series. My children (boys 5 & 3) love the books. They are easy enough for the younger one to follow, but exciting enough that the older one isn't bored. My biggest problem with them is the grammar. I would never let my children read these books themselves because I would never want them to think that the writing is correct. Luckily, by reading them aloud I can correct the mistakes without them even realizing it. Seriously though, the grammar is so poor that had not all the books been that way I would have assumed it was just something wrong with the printing machine. The author literally does not know what constitutes a sentence and she has no concept of the comma. Here are just a few examples (all found a single page no less!!):
1. "Let's leave the scroll on floor. And go," he said.

2. They walked together. Across the room. To the glowing gold box.

3. They stopped in front of the box. And they peered inside.

In all those cases she created fragment sentences instead of one regular sentence. She does this all the time. I think it was either in the first book or the second that I couldn't find a single page that didn't have a grammatical error. Both the author and the publisher should be ashamed of themselves.
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on December 2, 2003
I am Hunter and I am seven years old. My dad teaches me at home and I have to read lots of books. The Magic Treehouse books are my favorite books. I really liked the part where Jack crawled out of the secret tunnel and fell into the moat! I think other children will like these books too. My dad also has some of these on tapes and we listen to them in the car.
Hunter's dad: Although there are some grammatical lapses in these stories, I've found the subject matter and the 'fun' adventures offset the grammar for my son. I am still teaching him about the enjoyment of reading and giving him practice and he enjoys these. I don't think of these as "bubble gum for the brain" and I find the subject material provides a lot of teaching opportunities. For children just starting to read chapter books, I think these are a good choice. I also have The Boxcar Children set, but they are roughly three times as long and will be for my son's next stage of reading.
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on October 22, 2008
It is unfortunate that zero stars is not an option.

So, when did children's book publishers decide it was a good idea to throw out basic rules of grammar, such as writing in complete sentences? These books abound in fragments of all sorts. Moreover, the author and publisher decided that helpful punctuation, like commas, are similarly unnecessary. Mary Pope Osborne and Random House ought to be ashamed of themselves.

As a guest artist, I teach writing to a host of public school kids grades 7-12. Many of the students I work with think that they know what a sentence is, but they don't. If they read trash like The Magic Treehouse series when they were younger, it is no wonder. But don't just take my word for it. Compare these books with the writing of Antonia Barber in The Mousehole Cat (Book & CD). It is recommended for the same age range, has complete sentences, and with lively use of assonance and alliteration, is fresh and fun (and the illustrations are vastly superior!).

If you want your kids to read pulp that will likely leave them more confused about writing and grammar than they were before breaking the books' spines, look no further. These books are for you! But, if you think that they ought to be reading something of substance that makes them more intelligent and enriches their lives, try elsewhere.
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on January 23, 2010
I am a first grade teacher and I beg you to NOT get any of these books. They are a terrible example for children learning to write. One of the many strategies I teach my students to use while spelling and writing is to ask themselves, "Does it look right?" because so much of what is taught is reinforced by exposure and experience. With the MTH books being such poor examples of grammar, sentence structure, and story development, what these children are learning (or un-learning) is detrimental. What in the world were the editor and author thinking??? They should be ashamed. I came on to write an honest review because there are so many that praise this series and I am glad to see there are people who realize how important correct grammar and syntax are in children's literature. I really thought I was alone due to the bizarre popularity of these books.
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on March 14, 2002
This series is an interesting mix of fiction & nonfiction. Each book takes the characters (siblings Jack & Annie) to another place and/or time to get a clue to solve a mystery or challenge. The mysteries come in 4 book units, so this box set gives one full story unit. Our kids didn't really get that involved in the 'mystery' aspect, in part because we were getting them mostly from the library, which never seemed to have all 4 of a given mystery group. What they enjoyed was that it was a good easy chapter book, with many subjects or topics that were interesting to them.
I would agree with the reviewer who complained about the standard of writing- it's not great- and would add that if your child is particularly well-versed in a topic in one of the books they are likely to find that they know more than is presented in the story. I would put these squarely at 1st grade level... The Boxcar children are regularly threatened by rather sinister types, and because the stories are seen to be more current, it can seem more frightening than something that is clearly happening in another time- Pharoic Egypt, dinosaurs, etc.).
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on March 12, 2002
My 7 1/2 year old son never likes to read at all. I wasn't sure about buying a set of books again for him that he would not read. They were offered through a book club via the school and we got books 11 - 22. I had to beg him to read the first one, then, I can't get him to stop! He said they are interesting. Since they are books from the Accelerated Reader list, I am very happy he is reading them. He can read one a day even though most have 10 (short) chapters. I am getting the entire set for him. These are a very good buy!
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on May 2, 2013
The grammar and sentence fragments in these books is borderline offensive. Yes, I understand that these books are not and were never meant to be literary masterpieces. And, yes, I am happy that your children seem to like these books. But, children learn to write well by reading books with proper grammar and sentence structure, neither of which seem to be important to either the editor or author. The books are nearly impossible to read aloud without sounding confused or inept. "He held out his arm. Very cautiously." We will not be buying any more of these books for our children.
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