Magic Tree House author teams up with her sister

March 28, 2008 10:39:06 AM PDT
Fact meets fiction with the simultaneous publication of the latest Magic Tree House book and its nonfiction companion research guide. From best-selling author Mary Pope Osborne comes the newest addition to the series, Magic Tree House #39: Dark Day in the Deep Sea. Mary's sister Natalie Pope Osborne has written its nonfiction companion research guide, Sea Monsters: A Nonfiction Companion to Dark Day in the Deep Sea. In the latest Magic Tree House book, young readers are swept away on a new adventure with Jack and Annie, who are stranded on a remote island in the middle of the ocean. Youngsters can then turn to the nonfiction research guide to discover the facts behind the underwater adventures. The books with illustrations by Sal Murdocca were published this week. Since its debut in 1992, the mega-bestselling Magic Tree House series has sold nearly 53 million copies in North America, securing its coveted spot on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list as one of the top 5 bestselling series.

In DARK DAY IN THE DEEP SEA, Mary Pope Osborne's beloved brother-sister team Jack and Annie find themselves on yet another exciting new adventure. This time set in the mid-19th century, the Magic Tree House transports Jack and Annie to a remote island in the middle of the ocean. They set out in search of the secrets of happiness to save Merlin, but when they find themselves stranded on the island, they're not sure who needs help more?Merlin, or themselves! Things start to look up for Jack and Annie when a ship of explorers and scientists rescues them, but the adventure continues when they realize the crew isn't looking for the secrets of happiness?they're looking for a sea monster! Young readers will surely be enthralled as they dive into Jack and Annie's latest quest.

Readers can turn to the nonfiction research guide, SEA MONSTERS, to find out the facts behind the underwater adventures of Jack and Annie, including definitions of terms; tips for doing further research; information about the places, times, and cultures that Jack and Annie visit in the Magic Tree House fictional counterparts; and fun facts, illustrations, and photos that supplement the fictional Magic Tree House series. The Magic Tree House Research Guides, which launched in 2000, now include 17 titles and have sold over 3 million copies.

The world-renowned Magic Tree House series has been translated into 29 different languages, and is widely regarded among children, teachers, and parents for its power to instill a passion for reading. Teachers and kids can experience even more of the Magic Tree House fun on the interactive Web site, www.magictreehouse.com, which features games and activities for children and teaching tools and materials for educators.

Meet the Authors

Friday, March 28
7 pm
Borders
La Grange

Saturday, March 29
2 pm
The Tivoli Theatre (sponsored by Anderson's Bookshop)
Downers Grove

Talking with Mary Pope Osborne

Q: Where did the idea for the Research Guides come from?

A: Years ago, my husband Will and I realized kids and teachers always wanted to know more about the places that Jack and Annie visited. So, over time, we came up with the idea of starting a non-fiction series, called The Magic Tree House Research Guides. These books would be companions to the fiction books. Will worked on the first eight, and then moved on to write a planetarium show of the Magic Tree House, as well as a musical based on the series. Fortunately, my sister Natalie was available to take over writing the non-fiction books, and has now completed her eleventh one.

Q: How do you and Natalie write together? Any rituals or customs?

A: While I'm writing my Magic Tree House fiction books, Natalie is writing the non-fiction books. She does the bulk of the work on those books, but they are totally collaborative in that we discuss the subject a great deal and share research and ideas. Along with my husband Will, there are no two writers I trust more to be faithful to the series. Though Natalie and I work separately out of our homes, we both have the same habits: we take frequent breaks from our writing to make cups of tea, walk our dogs and stare into the refrigerator.

Q: How do you and Natalie differ in your writing?

A: I write the fiction books. So while I'm drawing on my research and knowledge about a subject, at the same time, I'm allowing my imagination to soar. Natalie, on the other hand, must "stick to the facts" -- and double and triple check her facts to make sure that they are right. Her biggest challenge is to explain complicated subjects in a way kids can understand -- while at the same time keeping her books fun and interesting.

Q: Your books are packed with adventure. Do you all have any funny or "adventurous" childhood stories of your own?

A: Our family moved constantly all over the world as we were growing up, because our dad was in the military. Probably for this reason, all four kids in the family were best friends -- and still are. We loved playing games of make-believe with each other and putting on family shows. I remember summers when we acted out Peter Pan, we pretended to be in the circus, we sang under street lamps, and we played endless games of imagination. Every house we moved to, we each chose our own favorite tree; and for weeks once, we pretended our picnic table was a ship. We all read tons of books -- and still do today. And we all still share a love of travel

About the authors

Mary Pope Osborne is the author of the highly acclaimed Magic Tree House series, which now boasts 39 titles and has sold nearly 53 million copies in North America. She grew up in a military family and lived in various states and four different army posts by the time she was 15 years old. After settling in a small North Carolina town, Mary eventually discovered the sense of adventure she experienced from moving at the local community theater, where she spent most of her free time. Mary went on to UNC-Chapel Hill, and her life after college was filled with many escapades, including extensive travel throughout Europe and Asia. After her traveling adventures, it was Mary's love of theater that eventually led her to meet her husband, Will, when she watched him in his role in a musical about Jesse James.

In addition to The Magic Tree House series, Mary is the author of many books for children and young adults, including picture books, biographies, mysteries and retellings of fairy tales, myths, and tall tales. She has served two terms as president of the Author's Guild?the leading organization for professional writers in the United States. Mary and her husband, Will, live in Connecticut and New York City.

Natalie Pope Boyce is the author of the highly regarded nonfiction companion research guides to The Magic Tree House series, which she has been writing for five years.

A military child, Natalie went to elementary school in Salzburg, Austria and Virginia. Natalie is a seasoned traveler, as she lived in Ireland and Germany for several years before moving to Mexico, where she lived for ten years. She now lives in Stockbridge, MA in a 175 year-old house where she spends her time reading, writing, gardening, listening to music, and visiting with her sister Mary, who lives nearby.

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