Magic Treehouse mini-rant - Mothering Forums
1 2 
Books, Music, and Media > Magic Treehouse mini-rant
staceychev's Avatar staceychev 12:19 PM 07-04-2010
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?

karika's Avatar karika 12:21 PM 07-04-2010
I have only read one, but I must admit I didn't notice. Example please?
staceychev's Avatar staceychev 12:36 PM 07-04-2010
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.
Oh the Irony's Avatar Oh the Irony 01:00 PM 07-04-2010
and Jack said...and Annie said. That is what drives me crazy!
lotusdebi's Avatar lotusdebi 01:38 PM 07-04-2010
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).
karika's Avatar karika 01:52 PM 07-04-2010
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
quelindo's Avatar quelindo 01:56 PM 07-04-2010
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.
staceychev's Avatar staceychev 04:44 PM 07-04-2010
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!
Daffodil's Avatar Daffodil 05:17 PM 07-04-2010
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.
Princess ConsuelaB's Avatar Princess ConsuelaB 09:24 PM 07-04-2010
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.

Irishmommy's Avatar Irishmommy 10:38 PM 07-04-2010
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.
Owen'nZoe's Avatar Owen'nZoe 01:00 PM 07-06-2010
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.
stik's Avatar stik 03:53 AM 07-08-2010
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.
marieangela's Avatar marieangela 01:54 PM 09-01-2010
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.
LuckyMommaToo's Avatar LuckyMommaToo 10:35 PM 09-01-2010
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
ecoteat's Avatar ecoteat 12:43 AM 09-02-2010
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.
SubliminalDarkness's Avatar SubliminalDarkness 12:59 AM 09-02-2010
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.
Aquitane's Avatar Aquitane 10:56 AM 09-02-2010
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!)
merpk's Avatar merpk 06:50 AM 09-06-2010
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.
madskye's Avatar madskye 01:39 AM 09-07-2010
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.
PuppyFluffer's Avatar PuppyFluffer 01:54 AM 09-07-2010
Our introduction to the Magic Treehouse series was through borrowing them on CD (read by the author) to listen to on an 8 hour trip we just took. My 8 year old daughter really liked them from the audio cds. She did pick up a few of the later numbered books at a yard sale recently. I'll have to look at them and see the sentence structure. Interestng observation and yeah, I would have totally noticed that and been bothered by it. For ease of reading in a newly reading child, I can see the function.
ImaSophie's Avatar ImaSophie 02:15 AM 09-07-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by merpk View Post
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.
My oldest reads Junie B Jones, Magic Treehouse, and a wide selection of what ever else catches his eye (right now he is very into Native Americans). I want him to LOVE reading! The point is not grammar IMO. The point is to get him reading, comprehending what he is reading, and enjoying the act of reading. The grammar will (or will not) come with time, a lot of the greatest writers out there have horrible grammar that's what they make copy editor's for .

To the poster that wants to discourage her son from reading a book series he enjoys why would you do that? He likes reading them, they aren't hurting him so why discourage it? he will outgrow the series and hopefully move on to bigger and better books.
ancoda's Avatar ancoda 04:54 PM 09-07-2010
My son enjoys them, but he also reads lots of other books. Some of the books he reads have better grammar then others. I want him to gain a love of reading lots of different types of books.
honeybee80's Avatar honeybee80 01:42 AM 10-21-2010
I also REALLY dislike these books for this reason! I can't believe they have become so popular given the horrible grammar usage. My kids haven't started reading these themselves yet, but I'm going to try to steer them elsewhere as they get to that level and do my best to encourage them to read books that contain correct grammar I have a really hard time reading them to my kids because I tend to get annoyed and verbalize my disgust with the way they are written
Smokering's Avatar Smokering 04:26 AM 10-21-2010
Dan Brown does the same thing. Honestly, I nearly threw The Da Vinci Code across the room because I was so sick of his little snippets of sentences and repetition. I assume it was meant to build tension and/or appeal to those with short attention spans (like the one-and-a-half-page chapters), but it drove me barmy.
Starflower's Avatar Starflower 04:56 AM 10-21-2010
Unless a child is only allowed to read these books, I don't think it's likely that they'll base all of their grammar knowledge on The Magic Tree House. DD has only read two of them and listened to one on CD. She enjoyed the stories, could relate to the children and even learned a couple things about history and mythology. She hates history in most contexts so I thought this was a good thing.

Personally, I prefer them over some of the other kids' books just because the MTH siblings aren't constantly sniping at each other all the time.
babygirlie's Avatar babygirlie 07:11 AM 10-21-2010
Never read them but reading yours did bug me. Who starts a sentence with And or But that is suppose to be an author. I would think they would be creative enough to say it in a better way. I would be concerned my child would think it's "ok" and then not understanding why she got bad grades. As long as they know it's not right I guess it doesn't matter but yea.. it would bug me to read that over and over. I'd be screaming in my head... why?!?!!
Owen'nZoe's Avatar Owen'nZoe 07:41 PM 10-21-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by babygirlie View Post
Never read them but reading yours did bug me. Who starts a sentence with And or But that is suppose to be an author. I would think they would be creative enough to say it in a better way. I would be concerned my child would think it's "ok" and then not understanding why she got bad grades. As long as they know it's not right I guess it doesn't matter but yea.. it would bug me to read that over and over. I'd be screaming in my head... why?!?!!
I don't want to be nit-picky, but starting a sentence with a conjunction is OK. Most grammar books consider it to be just fine, even in formal writing styles. Along with prohibitions against putting a preposition at the end of the sentence, this rule is completely out-dated.
Unoppressed MAMA Q's Avatar Unoppressed MAMA Q 12:29 PM 10-22-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Starflower View Post
Personally, I prefer them over some of the other kids' books just because the MTH siblings aren't constantly sniping at each other all the time.
I was just coming to bemoan the snarky undertones of the sibling relationship. Jack is a bit of an uppity brat toward his younger sister.
ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 02:03 PM 10-22-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen'nZoe View Post
I don't want to be nit-picky, but starting a sentence with a conjunction is OK. Most grammar books consider it to be just fine, even in formal writing styles. Along with prohibitions against putting a preposition at the end of the sentence, this rule is completely out-dated.


I start sentences with "And" or "But" all the time. I avoid it in formal writing, though, because there is still a big prejudice against it.
1 2 

Up