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*Magic Tree House #37: Dragon of the Red Dawn* by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Sal Murdocca- young readers fantasy book review
Also by Mary Pope Osborne:

Magic Tree House #43: Leprechaun in Late Winter

Polar Bears and the Arctic (Magic Tree House Research Guides)

Magic Tree House #34: Season of the Sandstorms

Magic Tree House #36: Blizzard of the Blue Moon

Magic Tree House Research Guide: Tsunamis & Other Natural Disasters

The Random House Book of Bible Stories
Magic Tree House #37: Dragon of the Red Dawn
by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Sal Murdocca
Ages 9-12 128 pages Random House February 2007 Hardcover    

Jack and Annie return to Japan in Magic Tree House #37: Dragon of the Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne. The siblings wake one morning to the sound of pebbles being thrown at their windows. The culprits are Teddy and Kathleen, friends from Camelot bringing their newest mission. Unfortunately, Merlin is starting to feel his age, which means the friends are unable to assist Jack and Annie on their mission because they must remain behind to help Morgan care for Merlin.

The book the children will use to travel is A Journey to Old Japan. The children earned the Wand of Dianthus from Merlin on a previous mission by proving their trustworthiness, and Teddy provides them with a few quick instructions for its use. With book and wand in hand, Jack and Annie make a wish from their magic tree house and are whisked away from Frog Creek, Pennsylvania to ancient Tokyo, known as Edo. They must discover one of four secrets of happiness to bring to Merlin to speed his recovery.

As they step out of the tree house into the Imperial Garden, it doesn’t take long for Jack and Annie to encounter policing samurai on the prowl for foreign visitors without passports. When the two are saved from the samurai by a benevolent man the samurai call “Master,” they instantly become traveling companions to the mysterious Basho. Basho teaches the children how to blend in with the villagers and avoid drawing unwanted attention from the vigilant samurai. Who is Basho, and why do the people of Edo call him “Master?”

During their journey, the children learn of the history of Tokyo from Basho. He teaches them to eat with chopsticks, affording them the opportunity to try sushi. They aid fisherman and firemen, watch dancers and puppets, and fall asleep to the lullaby of crickets.

As with all books in the Magic Tree House series, the artwork is absolutely stunning in Dragon of the Red Dawn. Artist Sal Murdocca fully captures the simplistic beauty and elegance of Asia, in particular the Imperial Garden. The story is full of educational snippets, but the most enjoyable addition to this tale is the inclusion of Basho’s poetry as a cultural representation. Jack and Annie try a bit of their own poetry, as well. The reader learns of the haiku form of poetry, as was commonly used by Basho in the 1600s.

A collection of myth, fact, and art, Dragon of the Red Dawn doesn’t include the related activities some of the previous installments have featured, but children will find the magic of Japan makes for a satisfying read. The book comes with a sticker to add to the Official Magic Tree House Passport, which can be printed from

As a finale, the reader is tempted with the next release in the Merlin Mission series, Monday with a Mad Genius, which will feature artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. It is scheduled to be released August 28, 2007.

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  Sabrina Williams/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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