Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Dinosaurs Before Dark- Deluxe Edition

Osborne, Mary Pope. Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Treehouse #1)
October 6th 2020 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Copy provided by the publisher

Jack and Annie live in Frog Creek, Pennsylvania and spend plenty of time outside playing. When they locate a treehouse that they've never seen before, they find that it is full of books. Since Jack loves to read, he delves into the titles, and before they know it, the two have been whisked back to the time of the dinosaurs. They make friends with a Pteranodon, and Jack makes notes about their encounters. They also observe a Triceratops and an Anatosaurus at close range with no ill effects, even feeding them flowers, but when a Tyrannosaurus Rex comes on the scene, they no it is not a soft, friendly dinosaur! Luckily, when Jack needs help, he is saved by Pteranodon and taken safely back to the tree house, where he and Annie are able to read the book about Pennsylvania and travel back home. They realize that no time has passed since they left, and their mother is none the wiser about their adventures. During their time in the past, they find a medallion with an "M" on it that will figure largely in future adventures. 
Strengths: First graders who are strong readers need books just like this-- heavily illustrated, with large text and formulaic plots that are still interesting and engaging. When the stories also include fascinating history, readers will obsessively collect the books to reread. This was certainly true of my own children, and I was always sad that there wasn't a series like this when I was a child. Aside from the Ruth Chew fantasy books, there weren't a lot of easy fantasy chapter books. This series has continued on for so many years because it understands the needs of young readers, and provides them with thrills, mystery, history, and a pair of siblings that get along most of the time! The full color treatment is excellent, although there is a soft spot in my heart for the originals. 
Weaknesses: While Antonio Caparo's illustrations are lovely, publishing a Magic Treehouse book without Sal Murdocca's iconic illustrations is akin to publishing Watty Piper's 1930 The Little Engine that Could without George and Doris Hauman's. Young readers won't care, but anyone who knows the originals will be a bit sad. 
What I really think: I am debating between keeping this copy for any future grandchildren I have or donating it to replace my library copy... which was on the very first order I placed at the Blendon Library back in the summer of 2002! My children were huge fans of this series, and these Deluxe Editions are great presents for any 6-year-old you might know! 

For Grandma Toddler Tuesday, we have a slightly more subdued outfit. I'm rubbish at selfies, so you don't get the houndstooth of the slacks or the paisley in the turtleneck. I think red shoes are essential to this outfit, but the owl print mask doesn't hurt. 

Happy Tuesday in a world where the Founding Fathers would be proud that the democratic system they created to check  the power of an individual WORKED!

 Ms. Yingling


  1. I remember reading and loving this series so much as a little kid! Thanks for featuring this book on here.

  2. Such fond memories of reading this series with my kiddo. We loved to pair the audiobook with the print for trips.

  3. I ordered the first four books in the Magic Tree House for my 6.5 -year-old great grandson for Christmas. Wish I knew about the Deluxe edition. But, he is a huge fan of dinosaurs and I know he will love the first book. Also gave him some other books. Thanks for sharing!

  4. And that's why we need to honor our Founding Fathers! Sure, the were flawed (who isn't?) and some of those flaws were serious (so are some of mine) but they crafted a system still stands after 250 years.