Magic Tree House: A Wild West Ride
1880s: the American Wild West. In their tenth adventure, Jack and Annie find themselves in Rattlesnake Flats, once a prosperous town on the stagecoach route to Texas but now deserted. The children explore the old General Store—now covered in cobwebs—and the hotel, where a spooky piano plays by itself. But before they can go home, a gang of horse raiders gallop in with their booty, including a red mustang mare, whose foal has been abandoned because it can’t keep up.
Annie is horrified by the cruelty and, when the frightened foal turns up, she is determined to reunite it with its mother. But they are stopped by cowboy Slim, who thinks they are horse thieves themselves! Will he believe them and help to free the red mustang from the horse raiders? And how can Slim and the two children beat a hardened gang of armed men?
I found the story complicated (Louis, plainly, got confused—see below) and somewhat disjointed, and the riddle the children must solve is irrelevant. Fortunately, Philippe Masson’s splendid drawings bring the Wild West to life and his pictures give us a bit of everything: cowboys, the General Store, the Saloon bar with the honky-tonk piano, mustangs, rattlesnakes, and cowboy boots. The drawings alone should hold the children’s interest.
It was about Annie and Jack going to the ghost town. Ghosts were still drifting around in it. People were still alive. There was just one ghost. Slim Cooley is a cowboy, who looks after horses. They help him to rescue some stolen horses. I think Annie and Jack should have told him who they really were. I got quite annoyed at Slim calling Jack ‘Shorty’. I think it was a good story but it should have had more ghosts in it. That would have been more exciting. But the horses were really cool. I thought it was really funny when Jack wrote down in his notebook, ‘Cowboy’s breakfast—hard biscuits and bitter coffee’.
–Louis McNulty (age 5)