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Spotlight on the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker Books

Overview and Book List of the Nonfiction Research Guides

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Cover art for Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #1: Dinosaurs

Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Dinosaurs, A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #1: Dinosaurs Before Dark

Random House

Overview

The nonfiction Magic Tree House Fact Tracker books target young independent readers. Each of these research guides serves as a nonfiction companion to one of the books of fiction in the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. For example, the Fact Tracker pictured to your right, Dinosaurs is the nonfiction companion book for Dinosaurs Before Dark, the first Magic Tree House book in the fiction series.

However, young readers may opt to read just books in the fiction series or just books in the nonfiction series since the books can be enjoyed independently of one another. The Fact Tracker books are particularly popular in Grade 3 and 4 classrooms and as recreational reading for readers in grades 2 to 4 who love nonfiction. Teachers and parents can get specific information about reading levels and curriculum connections, as well as lesson plans, on Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House Classroom Adventures Program site.

What to Expect: Format and Contents

The Fact Tracker books tend to be about 120 pages long. There are usually 6-7 chapters, with a Doing More Research section at the end, which includes tips and recommended books, Web sites and DVDs. The books contain a lot of illustrations, ranging from sketches, charts and other artwork by Sal Murdocca (illustrator of all the Magic Tree House books) to historic and contemporary photographs.

Each Fact Tracker book is introduced to readers through a prologue, a note from Jack and Annie, the brother and sister who are featured in the Magic Tree House fiction series. The two refer to the adventure they had in the related book in the series and mention how they've sought to learn more about the subject and now want to share what they'd learned with readers.

It's not easy to provide information while keeping the text at an appropriate reading level for the target audience. However, the authors present a good amount of interesting information. The books are not meant to provide a definitive look at a particular subject. Instead, they are meant to provide basic factual information about the subject, and the authors do so effectively. When the first nonfiction companion books were published, the books were known as Magic Tree House Research Guides. However, they are now known by the more child-friendly name Magic Tree House Fact Trackers.

Mary Pope Osborne's husband, Will Osborne, wrote the first 8 Fact Trackers (then known as Research Guides). After that, Natalie Pope Boyce, Mary's sister, became involved and so far, has written 18 Fact Trackers. Several years after the Magic Tree House fiction series began, the first nonfiction Fact Trackers were published. Now, while Mary works on a fiction book, Natalie Pope Boyce writes the companion nonfiction Fact Tracker and and the two books are published at the same time. Fact Tracker books are available in paperback and in hardcover library binding. You can also get them as eBooks. (Compare prices.)

What I Like About the Books

There are a number of things I particularly like about the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker books, including:
  • The books cover subjects of interest to children 6 to 10.
  • A good basic format is used for all the Fact Tracker books, which includes a table of contents, short chapters, an index and information about doing further research.
  • The books are written at an appropriate reading level for the age group.
  • The amount and type of information shared is on target.
  • The fact that these nonfiction books are companion books to books of fiction on the same subject provides additional opportunities for learning.
  • The continuity between the fiction and nonfiction books (characters Jack and Annie, illustrations by Sal Murdocca, reading levels, etc.) makes it easy for kids to go back and forth between the two.
  • The books are written and illustrated in a way that engages the reader's interest.

Things to Remember

If you are looking for Magic Tree House books in a bookstore, the books - fiction and nonfiction - tend to be displayed together. However, if your public library shelves books using the Dewey Decimal system, as most libraries do, finding the Fact Trackers in the library will be more of a challenge. While all of the Magic Tree House series will be shelved together by author on the juvenile fiction shelves, you won't find the Magic Tree House Fact Trackers in just one place.

Why? It's because they are nonfiction. Nonfiction books are shelved by subject, and each Fact Tracker book is about a different subject. The easiest thing to do is to print out this list and take it to the library. There you can use the library catalog to find out if your library has the specific Fact Tracker books you are interested in and where they are shelved. You can also ask the librarian to show you and your child how to use the library's catalog and locate the books.

Once your child has read one of books in the series, sharing the companion nonfiction book (or vice versa) is a great way to help your child understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction. You can also use the Fact Tracker books to help your child get used to using an index.

To learn more about all of the Magic Tree House books and author Mary Pope Osborne and her philanthropic efforts, read my two interviews with her: Magic Tree House Series: Author Interview and Magic Tree House 20th Anniversary Interview with Mary Pope Osborne. For an overview and book lists of all of the books in the Magic Tree House series of time travel adventures, see my articles about the Magic Tree House Series, Books #1-#28 and Books #29 and Up in the Magic Tree House Series.

Magic Tree House Fact Tracker Book List

Note that there is a Fact Tracker (Research Guide) for only some of the books in the Magic Tree House series. I have listed them in the order of the fiction book for which each nonfiction Magic Tree House Fact Tracker is a companion. If when this list was written (August 2012), there was no Fact Tracker, there will be a "None" next to the MTH series book number.
  • MTH #1 - Dinosaurs, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #1: Dinosaurs Before Dark)
  • MTH #2 - Knights and Castles, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #2: The Knight at Dawn)
  • MTH #3 - Mummies and Pyramids, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #3: Mummies in the Morning)
  • MTH #4 - Pirates, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #4: Pirates Past Noon)
  • MTH #5 - None
  • MTH #6 - Rain Forests, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #6: Afternoons on the Amazon)
  • MTH #7 - Sabertooths and the Ice Age, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #7: Sunset of the Sabertooth)
  • MTH #8 - Space, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #8: Midnight on the Moon)
  • MTH #9 - Dolphins and Sharks, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #9: Dolphins at Daybreak)
  • MTH #10 - None
  • MTH #11 - None
  • MTH #12 - Polar Bears and the Arctic, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #12: Polar Bears Past Bedtime)
  • MTH #13 - Ancient Rome and Pompeii, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #13: Vacation Under the Volcano)
  • MTH #14 - None
  • MTH #15 - None
  • MTH #16 - Olympics of Ancient Greece, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #16: Hour of the Olympics)
  • MTH #17 - Titanic, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #17: Tonight on the Titanic)
  • MTH #18 - None
  • MTH #19 - None
  • MTH #20 - None
  • MTH #21 - None
  • MTH #22 - American Revolution, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #22: Revolutionary War on Wednesday)
  • MTH #23 - Twisters and Other Terrible Storms Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Companion to Magic Tree House #23: Twister on Tuesday)
  • MTH #24 - None
  • MTH #25 - None
  • MTH #26 - None
  • MTH #27 - Pilgrims, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #27: Thanksgiving on Thursday)
  • MTH #28 - Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Companion to Magic Tree House #28 High Tide in Hawaii
  • MTH #29 - None
  • MTH #30 - None
  • MTH #31 - None
  • MTH #32 - None
  • MTH #33 - None
  • MTH #34 - None
  • MTH #35 - None
  • MTH #36 - None
  • MTH #37 - None
  • MTH #38 - Leonardo da Vinci, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #38: Monday with a Mad Genius)
  • MTH #39 - Sea Monsters, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #39: Dark Day in the Deep Sea)
  • MTH #40 - None
  • MTH #41 - None
  • MTH #42 - Ghosts, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #42: A Good Night for Ghosts)
  • MTH #43 - Leprechauns and Irish Folklore, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #43: Leprechaun in Late Winter)
  • MTH #44 - Rags and Riches: Kids in Time of Charles Dickens, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #44: A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time
  • MTH #45 - Snakes and Other Reptiles Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #45: A Crazy Day with Cobras)
  • MTH #46 - Dog Heroes, Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #46: Dogs in the Dead of Night)
  • MTH #47 - Abraham Lincoln Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #47: Abe Lincoln at Last!)
  • MTH #48 - Pandas and Other Endangered Species Magic Tree House Fact Tracker (Nonfiction Companion Book to Magic Tree House #48: A Perfect Time for Pandas).

Other Recommended Nonfiction Books for Your Child

Kids who love sports will enjoy these children's books about the Olympics, which include the Fact Tracker Olympics of Ancient Greece, High-Tech Olympics and Olympics!, among others.

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