Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House, book 1)
By Mary Pope Osborne
Published 1992 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Where did the mysterious tree house in their back yard come from? Before they can find out, Jack and Annie are whisked back in time - the time of the dinosaurs! How will they get home? And can they avoid becoming a dinosaur's next meal?
I must admit that I had never before read one of these books until a few short months ago. They are insanely popular and, coincidentally, it's the 20th anniversary of the first title being published. For a while now, I've known that I should pick one up and read it, just so I would finally have some idea what all the fuss is about. This is an incredibly quick read (as an adult), but it's paced nicely for kids. The chapters are short and each one ends on some sort of cliffhanger - perfect to keep new and reluctant readers moving along through the book. Now, even though I only read this one, I know that somehow this whole thing is tied into Morgan le Fay and magical librarians (or something like that), and I would definitely be interested to see how that is developed for young readers. Also, the thing I really like about this series is that it's educational at the same time it's entertaining. Osborne has also created a number of non-fiction companion books to teach the kids who are fanatic about her books real things about the time periods and animals and other topics they encounter while reading the Magic Tree House series. Even with over 40 titles in the series now, it's still nearly impossible to keep them on the shelves. I can understand why kids love these - I may even continue reading the series myself!