Magic Tree House: Pirates’ Treasure
18th century. In this fourth Magic Tree House adventure, Jack and Annie are marooned on a tropical island with a pirate ship flying the Jolly Roger sailing towards them. As usual, the author plants a few historical facts inside a simple story. This time we have: Spanish treasure ships in the Caribbean bringing back gold; the Jolly Roger; and the name of a real life pirate, Captain Kidd.
In my view, this is pretty useless. There’s no historical context at all. There’s nothing about where the Spaniards were bringing the treasure from, nor about their conquest of Latin America, nor about what Captain Kidd actually did – and his story is pretty dramatic. This is Peter Pan territory. At the back of the book there’s a website, including a teacher tree, so presumably the book is aimed at the school curriculum. Personally, I can’t see how it could be useful educationally; it simply doesn’t contain enough material.
However, the story certainly has plenty of adventure. Jack and Annie are captured by a pirate with the splendid name of Cap’n Bones and taken on board a pirate ship. He has a map with a mysterious rhyme written underneath stating the treasure’s whereabouts which he can’t read. The children read it and locate the treasure’s hiding-place. The pirates return to the island to dig it up but are interrupted by a tropical storm. Will Jack and Annie be able to escape back to the Magic Tree House before the storm sweeps them away?
I think children aged 5-7 would enjoy the adventure and Philippe Masson’s blood-curdling illustrations are sure to keep them happy: Cap’n Bones has an eye-patch, another carries a knife between his teeth, etc. However, I doubt it will teach them anything of value about history.
I like the way that they drew the pirate ship and I liked Polly the parrot because she was saying ‘Go to the tree house’ at the end. I remembered from the first book that they had found an M, and Polly turned out to be the M person. Annie believes in magic and Jack likes books. I like the way Annie punched the pirate and he didn’t notice it because he was so strong. My favourite bit was where she was looking down at the water because it seemed as if she was looking at a pearl.
I really liked the drawings, especially how they drew the water and the birds. I was frightened in the story because I thought Annie and Jack were going to be hurt. I really liked the way they made the whole island in the shape of a whale, with a whale’s spout for the tree house. Daddy read it with me.