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Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #11: American Revolution

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A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #22: Revolutionary War on Wednesday

Written by Mary Pope OsborneAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope BoyceAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Natalie Pope Boyce
Illustrated by Sal MurdoccaAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Sal Murdocca


List Price: $5.99


On Sale: May 30, 2012
Pages: 128 | ISBN: 978-0-307-97529-4
Published by : Random House Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #11: American Revolution Cover

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Track the facts with Jack and Annie!
When Jack and Annie got back from their adventure in Magic Tree House #22: Revolutionary War on Wednesday, they had lots of questions. What was it like to live in colonial times? Why did the stamp Act make the colonists so angry? Who were the Minutemen? What happened at the Boston Tea Party? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Jack and Annie track the facts. Filled with up-to-date information, photos, illustrations, and fun tidbits from Jack and Annie, the Magic Tree House Fact Trackers are the perfect way for kids to find out more about the topics they discovered in their favorite Magic Tree House adventures. And teachers can use Fact Trackers alongside their Magic Tree House fiction companions to meet common core text pairing needs.

Have more fun with Jack and Annie on the Magic Tree House website at MagicTreeHouse.com!
Mary Pope Osborne

About Mary Pope Osborne

Mary Pope Osborne - Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #11: American Revolution

Photo © Paul Coughlin

“I’m one of those very lucky people who absolutely loves what they do for a living. There is no career better suited to my eccentricities, strengths, and passions than that of a children’s book author.”—Mary Pope Osborne

Mary Pope Osborne is the author of the popular Magic Tree House series. She works with her husband Will and her sister Natalie on the nonfiction companion series, Magic Tree House Research Guides. Many of her books have been named to best-books lists.


“I grew up in the military. By the time I was 15, I had lived in Oklahoma, Austria, Florida, and four different army posts in Virginia and North Carolina. Moving was never traumatic for me, but staying in one place was. When my dad finally retired to a small town in North Carolina, I nearly went crazy with boredom. I craved the adventure and changing scenery of our military life. Miraculously, one day I found these things, literally only a block away—at the local community theater. From then on, I spent nearly every waking hour after school there.

“After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the early 1970s, I lived an intensely varied life. For a while I camped in a cave on the island of Crete. Then I joined up with a small band of European young people heading to ‘The East.’ We traveled through 11 Asian countries and nearly lost our lives, first in an earthquake in northern Afghanistan and then in a riot in Kabul. My trip came to an abrupt halt in Katmandu when I got blood poisoning. During the two weeks I spent in a missionary hospital there, I read all of the Tolkien trilogy. To this day, my journey to ‘The East’ is tangled up in my mind with Frodo’s adventures.

“After I returned home and recovered from my illness, I promptly headed back into the real world. I worked as a window dresser, as a medical assistant, and as a Russian travel consultant. One night I attended the opening of a musical about Jesse James. From the balcony, I fell in love with Will Osborne, the actor/musician playing Jesse. I loved his boots and his white cowboy hat; I loved how he sang and strummed the guitar. A year later, in New York City, we were married.

“Thereafter, when I wasn’t on the road with Will, I worked as a waitress, taught acting classes in a nursing home, was a bartender, and had a job as an assistant editor for a children’s magazine.

“Then one day, out of the blue, I began writing a story about an 11-year-old girl in the South. The girl was a lot like me, and many of the incidents in the story were similar to happenings in my childhood. The first draft was crudely written, but it must have communicated something to an editor, because shortly after I finished, it became a young adult novel called Run, Run Fast as You Can. Finally, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

"Now 24 years and 80 books later, I think I’m one of the most fortunate people on earth. Whenever I work on a book, I feel as if I’ve traveled to some amazing place in the world. Writing Tales from the Odyssey, I sailed with Odysseus through the ancient Greek world. Working on the Spider Kane Mysteries, I spent time in an abandoned cottage garden with a group of nutty and wonderful insects. Working on my novel Haunted Waters, I lived in a haunted castle with a sea spirit. While working on my new picture book, Pompeii: Lost and Found, I felt as if I myself were excavating an ancient Roman city. And of course, with my Magic Tree House series, I take daily journeys with Jack and Annie to different times and places, from the prehistoric world of dinosaurs to the world of Camelot. Though there are 36 books of fiction and 13 non-fiction books in the Magic Tree House series now, I don’t think I’ll ever run out of places to travel to in my imagination.

"The Magic Tree House has also whisked me to schools all over the country, and the contact I now have with millions of readers has brought overwhelming joy into my life. I love the letters I get and I love reading the countless Magic Tree House stories that children themselves have written. I feel as if my readers and I are all exploring the creative process together, using our imaginations and writing skills to take us wherever we want to go. This, I tell my small fellow authors, is true magic."


We passed an old dilapidated tree house . . .

I spent a year trying different ways to get two kids back in time. I tried an enchanted cellar with magic whistles, an enchanted museum, and an enchanted artist’s studio. I wrote seven different manuscripts using different magical devices and nothing worked. Then on a walk in the country with my husband, we passed an old dilapidated tree house. We started talking about the tree house . . . and continued talking about it. The next day I tried writing about it—to see if it might possibly be magic. And it was.

I’m aching to hang out with penguins . . .

My stories always coincide with my personal interests, which seem fairly unlimited at this point. I find that the more you learn, the more you want to learn. I want to take Jack and Annie to Antarctica. I’m aching to hang out with penguins.

They started dreaming me up . . .

At first I just dreamed Jack and Annie up. They seem so happy and complete. I don’t want to subject them to the awful peer pressure that comes with growing older. They’d probably start hanging around the mall instead of climbing into the tree house.

My brothers and I had great adventures on our bikes and in the woods and on the beach where we lived. We felt as though we’d been to far distant worlds by the time we came home—adventures we happily kept to ourselves. I want kids to live through Jack and Annie’s independent journeys as well as their own!

It’s harmonious teamwork . . .

My editor has had an incalculable impact on these books. She has worked on all [the] books to date, and has been a great inspiration and guide. The series has a wonderful illustrator, Sal Murdocca. Sal researches the illustrations himself, and he’s very flexible and open to my ideas. The series’ designer and editor also have input into the art. It’s harmonious teamwork.


I’m a creature of constant change . . .

No two days of writing for the last 20 odd years have been the same. I write at every time of the day. I carry my laptop to every part of the house—or to places outside the house. I’m a creature of constant change. I do a lot of research before I start writing, but I do a great deal more after I start writing, as I confront more and more questions about the subject matter.

I’m living an extraordinary life . . .

The best part of being a writer is being transported to other places and living other experiences. By surrounding myself with the smells, weather, animals, and people of imaginary landscapes, I feel as if I’m living an extraordinary life. The worst part of being a writer is not having enough time or energy to write all the things I want to write.

I started writing poetry in high school . . .

I was living in North Carolina and I loved the work of Thomas Wolfe. Not until my late twenties did I have any idea I could be a writer. I only knew that I loved living in my imagination, and that no matter what job I was doing, my mind and thoughts were elsewhere. I was ready to settle for being a professional daydreamer.

I’ve had too many favorite authors to list . . .

As a child, I loved Frances Hodgson Burnett and Laura Ingalls Wilder. In my teen years: Thomas Wolfe, J. D. Salinger, Hermann Hesse, and Jack Kerouac. In my twenties: Tolstoy, Nabokov, E. B. White, and Colette. Since then I’ve had too many to list. The Little Princess, The Three Ugly Sisters, and Big Farmer Big were my favorite books.

To aspiring writers:

Write, write, write. Always try to have fun and at the same time always do the hard work of rewriting.

Mary Pope Osborne is the author of many highly acclaimed books for children and young adults, including novels, picture books, biographies, mysteries, and retellings of fairy tales, myths, and tall tales. She has completed two terms as president of the Author’s Guild, the leading organization for professional writers in the United States.



“Mary Pope Osborne provides nicely paced excitement for young readers, and there’s just enough information mixed in so that children will take away some historical fact along with a sense of accomplishment at having completed a chapter book.”—Children’s Literature on the Magic Tree House series

“A rousing adventure tale filled with dancing fairies, white stags, and hideous beasts.”—School Library Journal on Christmas in Camelot


—A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
—A Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
—An NCSS–CBC Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies
—An ABC Children’s Booksellers’ Choice Award


—An American Bookseller Pick of the Lists
—A Parents Magazine Best Book of the Year


—An Edgar Award Nominee for Best Juvenile Mystery


—A Parents’ Choice Story Book Honor
—A Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Book of the Year

The Ways We Worship

—An Orbis Pictus Honor Book, National Council of Teachers of English
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide


Pre-Reading Activities
For use with Revolutionary War on Wednesday and Magic Tree House Research Guide: American Revolution

Much more than a revolt against unfair taxation by the British, the American Revolution was a fight for independence in the name of certain universal principles such as rule of law, constitutional rights, and popular sovereignty. Ask students to define freedom and what it means to be free. What freedoms were fought for in the American Revolution? What do they know about key figures like George Washington and Paul Revere. What do they know about events like the Boston Tea Party or the signing of the Declaration of Independence? Tell students they will learn more about this war, these people and events, and much more in this guide.

Batter up!

·Culinary Arts

Many colonists lived on farms and grew their own food. List the kinds of vegetables and grains cultivated and the kind of game colonists hunted for meat. Jack and Annie’s Hasty Pudding and other traditional foods from the colonial period offer hands-on (and sumptuous!) opportunities to gain an understanding of fractions through measurement. The following recipe for Johnny Cake may be prepared by small groups with supervision. After baking, finished cakes may be divided into halves, quarters, etc. for distribution and enjoyment. Yum!

Johnny Cake

3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup sweet milk
1/4 cup melted shortening

Sift flour with baking soda, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. Stir in cornmeal. Combine eggs, vinegar, milk, and shortening. Pour into a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Stir until smooth and moist. Turn into a greased 8" x 8" x 2" baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 30—35 minutes. Let cool before cutting. May be topped with molasses and butter.

Check out other recipes for gingerbread and holiday wassail at www.history.org/Almanack/life/food/ginger.cfm

A Flag for Our Times

· Art

While there was no official flag during colonial times, each one served as a symbol to represent the original 13 colonies of America and the freedom to be found there. Study the different flags Jack and Annie display in this guide. What shapes and images and colors do they use? What are these images intended to symbolize? Did any of these flag designs borrow anything from the British Union Jack? Using paper, crayons, or paints, design your own flag to represent the colonies. Choose images that you feel represent, or symbolize, the spirit of America.

A Different Field of Battle


Many men died in battle during the Revolutionary War, but even more died battling exposure, hunger, and disease. Using library or Internet resources, research the infectious diseases and maladies that plagued American Revolution troops. What were the conditions that caused frostbite and sources that spread typhus, small pox, and malaria. What were the symptoms of each? Discuss the importance of hygiene, vaccines, and antibiotics in the prevention and treatment of such diseases today.

·Creative Writing

By examining literature of a specific period, readers can develop a picture of what life was like in a particular time and place. Share with your students, Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving, the story of a henpecked husband who sleeps through the entire Revolutionary War in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. How do the descriptions of the homes, professions, weaponry, and clothing tell us this story takes place in the late 18th century? What actual historical events and personalities does Irving include? How have things changed in Rip’s town and in America after he returns 20 years later?

Using library and Internet resources (http://www.hudsonvalley.org/education/Background/abt_irving/abt_irving.html), have students learn more about the life of Washington Irving and how his background and experiences led to the writing of Rip Van Winkle.

Write a story about a modern-day Rip Van Winkle who wakes up 20 years from now. How old would she or he be? What kinds of changes would she or he find in her or his hometown and the world at large?

·Language Arts

Separate your students into small groups. Have each prepare five questions for mock interviews with one of the men and women of the Revolution given star status in this guide. Select a student from each group to play the role of their key figure and answer questions posed.

Then, separate your students into staff members of two Colonial newspapers: The Patriot Press, written by those who wanted to fight the British, and The Tory Times, written by those who wished to remain loyal to Britain. Have them prepare editorials on selected interviews as a means of supporting their positions on the war and independence.


Prepared by Rosemary B. Stimola, Ph.D. She is a teacher of Children’s Literature at Hostos Community College/City University of New York and serves as educational and editorial consultant to publishers of children’s books.

Download a PDF of the Teacher's Guide

  • Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #11: American Revolution by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce; illustrated by Sal Murdocca
  • August 10, 2004
  • Juvenile Nonfiction - Readers - Chapter Books
  • Random House Books for Young Readers
  • $5.99
  • 9780375823794

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