Magic Tree House: Valley of the Dinosaurs


This read alone book, aimed at 5-7 year olds, with its cheerful black and white drawings and easy-to-read typeface, is the first in a series of historical adventures. In it, two children, Jack and Annie, time travel with the aid of a magic tree house.

In the wood near their house, Jack and Annie find an oak tree with a stepladder which leads to a mysterious tree house filled with old books. They can’t resist exploring it. Inside, they find a book called In the Time of the Dinosaurs. Jack, who is of a scientific turn of mind, exclaims, ‘I wish I could see a pteranodon for real!’ Instantly, they are transported back in time and the adventure begins. Jack’s problem is that Annie will be friendly with the dinosaurs, and he’s not at all sure which ones are safe!

In this simple adventure story, the author gives just the right amount of information to enable children to recognize the four different dinosaurs they meet and learn a bit about them. The dinosaurs are carefully chosen for variety. The pteranodon is a small winged reptile, which is vegetarian. The fearsome-looking three-horned triceratops, which is built like a tank, is also vegetarian. The baby anatosauroses in their nursery look harmless, but they are guarded by a large female, who is determined to protect them. Jack and Annie have to pretend to be slow-grazing animals and crawl quietly out of her way. But they discover that all the female wants to eat are magnolia flowers. Lastly, they meet the ferocious tyrannosaurus rex with its long, sharp teeth. It definitely has Jack and Annie on the menu.

Aimed at schools, the website offers teachers’ information and various extra activities, including quizzes and games to encourage young readers.

Elizabeth Hawksley

This book has lots of adventure in it. I liked seeing the dinosaur on the hill in the story – it made me happy because I like triceratops. It was a bit scary in some places, like when the T-Rex came because all the other dinosaurs were friendly, but the T-Rex wasn’t. I liked the baby dinosaurs in the nests, they were so cute.

The pictures were good, especially the pictures of the dinosaurs. I liked the idea of the magic tree house, and that there was a lot of mystery, for example, who was there before the children, and who left the gold medallion. The part where they met the trumpeting dinosaur called the anatosaurus was funny, and I thought it was clever when the boy flew through the air on the back of the pteranodon.

The dinosaur book in the tree house was a good idea because Jack read lots of interesting facts from it. I thought Annie should have been the eldest because she was the one who wasn’t scared of everything.

Louis McNulty, Age 5 & Minna McNulty, Age 8

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Alt title
Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs in the Dark

(US) $3.99
(UK) £3.99

(US) 0679824111
(UK) 9781862302236