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Magic Treehouse mini-rant

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
I've started reading chapters of the Magic Treehouse books to DD at night and she's enjoying the stories. Anyway, I was wondering if anyone knows why the author writes with so many sentence fragments. There are a ridiculous amount--much more than would be needed for creative expression. They're constant! I know I might be an uptight high school English teacher, but I actually don't want her reading them when she's reading them on her own because they set such a bad example! Any thoughts?
post #2 of 42
I have only read one, but I must admit I didn't notice. Example please?
post #3 of 42
Thread Starter 
From #3, Mummies in the Morning:

Maybe M wanted the gold medallion back. The one Jack had found on their dinosaur adventure. Maybe M wanted the leather bookmark back. The one from the castle book.
There was an M on the medallion. And an M on the bookmark. But what did M stand for? (pp 2-3)


The cat was running away from the palm trees. Toward a giant pyramid in the desert.
A parade was going toward the pyramid. The same pyramid as in the Egypt book. (p 10)

(Italics mine)

I totally get that I'm being anal here, and I also totally get that sentence fragments can be used for a variety of effects. (I'm not a Warriner's style English teacher!) But now that I've noticed this, I can barely read these books! I think we may stop after the next one.
post #4 of 42
and Jack said...and Annie said. That is what drives me crazy!
post #5 of 42
I HATE The Magic Treehouse books because the writing is so awful! I read a couple of them to my son before he was reading on his own, and his interest waned. He doesn't read them on his own now, though there are several on his shelf (gifts).
post #6 of 42
wow well that is horrible from a grammar point of view. American/ english grammar (lol sentence fragment). I am thinking though that it sounds good as spoken word. Maybe as a story it is like written in train of thought which is more entertaining? I am going to have to go look at mine now, lol
post #7 of 42
OMG! I just started reading this series to DS4 and I noticed the exact same thing. It drives.me.crazy. I tend to read the fragments as all one sentence, because I can't stand to hear it otherwise.
post #8 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by New Mama View Post
OMG! I just started reading this series to DS4 and I noticed the exact same thing. It drives.me.crazy. I tend to read the fragments as all one sentence, because I can't stand to hear it otherwise.


I know! I'm editing as I read!
post #9 of 42
She does that less as the series goes on. I imagine it's to make the sentences a little more manageable for beginning readers who are reading the books to themselves.
post #10 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
She does that less as the series goes on. I imagine it's to make the sentences a little more manageable for beginning readers who are reading the books to themselves.
post #11 of 42
When dd1 was into reading Junie B Jones, I had her read aloud a chapter and point out the errors. She had no problems with it, so I let her read them.
post #12 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
She does that less as the series goes on. I imagine it's to make the sentences a little more manageable for beginning readers who are reading the books to themselves.
Exactly. You'll notice less of this after you get past the first 6 or so books. I've never had a problem with it, but I know a lot of people make this complaint about the books.
post #13 of 42
Short sentences help keep the reading level low, which helps the publisher market the books for early elementary students.

Personally, I think Pope is gaming the system. The computer calculating reading level uses lengths of words and sentences. The shorter they are, the lower the reading level is calculated to be. However, a book full of sentence fragments is not necessarily easy to read or comprehend. Pope should be using short complete sentences instead of fragments.
post #14 of 42
I noticed this, too. My 7 ear old read a few of those and is now reading Secrets of Droon books, which he likes better.
post #15 of 42
Eh, it doesn't bother me (and I was a professional copyeditor!). DS reads all kinds of things: comics, graphic novels, classics, goofy series. Pretty much anything that engages him is okay by me. Right now he's on a Garfield comic strip kick. OMG they're SO bad. At least I don't have to read them to him!
-e
post #16 of 42
I used to teach 3rd/4th grade and I just could not recommend those books. If the author wants to improve readablily for kids, ignoring English grammar conventions is not the way to do it. Kids learn how to write by reading. I certainly did not want my students writing like that! What terrible modeling.
post #17 of 42
I admit, I have never read one, but DS1 has. I think I'll be discouraging them from now on(though they're well below his reading level, he enjoys reading them here or there) because I don't want him to pick up on poor sentence structure. The only reason I really know what is proper is because I read so much when I was young and was able to learn that way. I'd hate to think that the activity which should be teaching is actually sending the wrong message.
post #18 of 42
DS read them more when he was in 1st and 2nd grade. He struggled with reading more than DD, so they were easier for him. It didn't take too long before he was bored with them.

DD was in a Junie B. craze last year. We've talked about how the writing isn't correct, and she understands.

I agree with LuckyMamaToo, as long as they're reading something, that's fine with me. (I do agree that the fragments are annoying, though!)
post #19 of 42
My kids read them (or more accurately, I read them to them) a few years back, and yeah, the grammatical issues stood out, but you know what? They don't read to learn grammar.

We don't live in the US and I count on books in English as the mainstay of whatever homeschooling we do in English, but you can't count on them for grammar lessons. After all, some absolute classics are nightmares of grammar.

"Tom Sawyer," anyone? "Huckleberry Finn"?

And my 12yo just read a wonderful book called "Elijah of Buxton" that probably undid half of what he learned grammatically over the last 12 years. But that was also worthwhile discussion fodder; why did the writer make those choices, why are the words spelled that way, and why are these words that are thoroughly incorrect being used intentionally?

And if an award-winning book can be written with intentionally horrendous grammar, then why does he have to learn it, anyway? LOL

The grammar is a separate issue from the story, from the reading itself, with any book. The reading is the point. Grammar, go elsewhere for.






I totally realize that there's a big difference between a book about runaway slaves using bad grammar, where it's key to the characterization, and a series of books where the author just chose to disregard rules of sentence structure, etc. But the point is still the same. The books are for reading. Grammar is a different lesson.
post #20 of 42
I think part of it is that she is writing with an aim towards building excitement in the plot developments. So the sentence fragments are basically...another clue!

And I agree that part of it is writing around the targeted reading level--that is a really, really hard game. Publishers say the hardest thing to write is actually a level 1 reader (which MTH books are not)--but something like Step Into Reading or I Can Read books in the easiest level. You're only allowed to use so many words and then you have to form a story around the pictures--supposedly it's maddening!

Mary Pope Osborne is a really, really nice hippie lady. I'll try to see if I can find a webcast of her somewhere, but I also think it might be the way she talks in real life. I met her a few times in my old job and she's really wonderful, but kind of groovy and excited and distracted if that makes any sense? So maybe part of it is just her personality coming through in the books.
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