Mary Pope Osborne
Danger in the Darkest Hour is beloved children’s writer Mary Pope Osborne’s latest entry in the Magic Tree House series and it features Jack and Annie’s most dangerous mission ever. The magic tree house has taken Jack and Annie back in time to England in 1944. England is fighting for its life in World War II. Before long, Jack and Annie find themselves parachuting into Normandy, France, behind enemy lines. The date is June 5. Will the brave brother and sister team be able to make a difference during one of the darkest times in history? “It appears there is nowhere Osborne’s Magic Tree House cannot take readers, as this successful foray suggests,” our reviewer writes.


Jack and Annie go to Normandy on June 4, 1944.

In this “super edition” of her phenomenally successful Magic Tree House books, Osborne takes Jack, Annie and readers on their longest adventure yet. Summoned by enchanter-in-training Teddy via carrier pigeon to Glastonbury on the eve of the D-Day invasion, Jack and Annie are then airlifted behind enemy lines in France to retrieve Teddy’s colleague Kathleen, who has gone missing there. Once in France, Jack and Annie deploy their respective skills to make their way through a countryside peopled with Resistance members and collaborators—only it’s not so easy to tell the difference. It’s an ambitious undertaking, plunging elementary-age readers into a complex conflict they likely know little about, but Osborne trusts her audience to navigate the rough historical waters along with her protagonists. Of necessity, some details are oversimplified, particularly the reason the Nazis are dangerous to the group of Jewish orphans Kathleen is protecting—but by introducing the Holocaust with Jack and Annie’s own developmentally appropriate incomprehension, Osborne establishes a clear-cut good-vs.-evil paradigm her readers can easily understand. Also developmentally appropriate is the magus ex machina deliverance that sees all players safely situated by the end of the book. Several pages of nonfiction backmatter will provide background and context for readers whose interests are piqued.

It appears there is nowhere Osborne’s Magic Tree House cannot take readers, as this successful foray suggests. (Adventure. 7-10)

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