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Brand-new Monday Book Review! “Balto of the Blue Dawn” (Magic Tree House #54) & “Dogsledding and Extreme Sports” (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker)

February 29th, 2016

Extra, extra: A fantastic NPR story about one Marley Dias, who wants to know why there aren’t more African-American girls starring as main characters in children’s books. I love this kid.
And on to today’s review:

The year: 1925
The setting: Nome, Alaska
Our heroes: Jack and Anna
Our author: The one, the only, our girl Mary Pope Osborne

Yes, it’s time for a new Magic Tree House novel and companion non-fiction book. “Balto of the Blue Dawn” (illustrations by Sal Murdocca, 2016, A Stepping Stone Book, Random House, $12.99 hardcover, 117 pages) is historical fiction based on the true story of the dogsledding teams transporting medicine to Alaska to help stop an outbreak of diptheria. Will they make it in time? Can they survive the freezing cold? And what about our friend Balto? Wonderful book — as always, Mary Pope Osborne comes through with a book that’s engaging and just right for her young readers, with a story and plot that will keep their grown-ups interested, too.

“The wind started to blow.
The tree house started to spin.
It spun faster and faster.
Then everything was still.
Absolutely still.”

I like all of the non-fiction companion books with the MTH series. Subjects have included everything from critters to pirates, from the Titanic to pilgrims, and now, extreme sports. Fun! “Dogsledding and Extreme Sports” (illustrations by Sal Murdocca, 2016, A Stepping Stone Book, Random House, $5.99 paperback, 121 pages). I learned many cool facts thanks to this little book. In the Iditarod, for instance, racers travel more than 900 miles. Get out! The word musher? Comes from the French Canadian traders to called “Marche!” (“Move!”) to their dogs. There’s a section on endurance swimmer Diana Nyad (hero!), the Ironman triathlon, snowboarder Chloe Kim (superpipe hero!) and lots of other fun stuff.

Bon appetit, readers.

— wm

PS — It’s very cool that author-sisters Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Bryce recently donated 5,000 books to Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program in honor of its 50th birthday. (Lots of resources on the author’s site for parents and teachers.)

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