Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Underage Book Addicts: An Open Letter to Mary Pope Osborne

Dear Ms. Osborne (if that is your real name),

I am on to you, lady author.

You may have your hoards of glassy-eyed, feverishly reading child fans fooled, but not me. Not me, I say.

First, there was my son, who COULD NOT put your Magic Tree House books down two years ago. Which, in my naiive parenting mind, was a good thing, right? OO, he's becoming a READER. Little did I know then. Little did I know.

First, I tried to purchase your collection for the holidays and found out that you had written about 11 thousand in the series. 11 thousand, really? And here, I can barely finish my grocery list. Appropriate, then, that the only place I could find your series that winter was the bulk wholesaler, COSTCO. But how could I buy them all? First of all, they certainly wouldn't fit in a stocking, and then, how could I convince my innocent boy that Santa had actually brought this behemoth box?. I mean, it betrays all laws of physics to think that a rotund man in a red suit - who already challenges disbelief in his chimney-traversing skills - could have fit down our flue with your bulky series in hand. No, my son would never have believed it, and he would have realized that Santa was not real. And even you could not want that on your conscience.

And so, I had to drive around to every library in our county, diligently getting every darn alliteratively-titled adventure in series order. You really had to number them, huh? I mean, would it truly be so against your sense of literary integrity if some child read Mummies in the Morning before A Knight at Dawn? And six year olds who can read can usually count - because believe me, I tried to pull that fast one and it didn't work.

And worst of all, by the end of our series, my boy was hooked. HOOKED, I say. A reading ADDICT. And you can't tell me that wasn't your intention all along. No, no, don't give me that innocent look, I'm on to you.

But you weren't satisfied in having just one of my children join your historical time-travelling tribe, were you? Oh, no. Now, you've roped in my daughter, that innocent flower who just last week was satisfied with Nursery rhymes and Amelia Badelia read alouds. Suddenly, I find her CONSUMING your books with the speed and hunger of an addict in the making. Don't act like you didn't intend it all along, Ms. Osborne. The short chapters packed with action and adventure, the easy to read sentences, the familiar, loveable characters. YOU EVEN MADE THEM AN OLDER BROTHER AND YOUNGER SISTER, AS ARE MY CHILDREN. Have you no shame, oh authoress? Have you no shame?

I don't know how you did it, but you have created the perfect gateway book - from innocent listener to avid reader via 50 easy steps called The Magic Treehouse series. Oh, The horror!

I can't even recognize my girl this week - because her face is always hidden behind one of your oh-so-clever titles. She didn't come to dinner because she was reading. I heard from her brother that at recess she was sitting on the swings and READING. And now she is laughing and beaming and beside herself excited to read. Why, you've transformed my baby in to a... a.... (do I bear to say it?) READER!

So in short, Ms. Osborne, America's children have fallen under your spell, and don't think we don't know it. We parents are ON to your skillfully written tricks. Whether slipping discs from buying your entire series, or polluting the environment by driving from library to library in search of sequentially numbered books, we are reduced to aiding and abetting our children's habits. And all because of you, Ms. Osborne.

J'accuse, Madam Authoress. J'accuse!

Yours sincerely, & etc.

A very, very grateful  parent.

PS. Mary Pope Osborne, you seriously rock. No, seriously. All that stuff about Santa, I seriously didn't mean it.


  1. Great post, Sayantani - I've never read the series myself (just how many books are there really?) but after reading this post I think it's definitely worth a peek. Isn't it great when kids discover books - and books they love? :)

  2. Thanks, Sabrina! There are about 50 and there seem to be about 5 a year! It's the perfect transition book (gateway drug) -- they're all v. short chapter books but with lots of action/plot/historical learning... It was the series that hooked my son and from the looks of it now my daughter too...

  3. Fabulous! My son was not interested in reading (must have been a genetic mutation) and would not pick up a book on his own until he discovered this series. Now he is addicted. The books are amazing, and I am amazed at how quickly his reading skills are improving. Thanks MPO.


  4. Thanks for visiting Vinobaby! I know, the addictive nature of these books is what alerted my sleuthing nose - I mean, does she slather the pages with kiddie hallucinogens or something? Is there a magic potion she incants over each volume before it goes to the store? How does she does she do it???

  5. Alrighty now. BEST blog post I've read this week, lol. You ROCKED it. Can't stop laughing and nodding my head.

  6. Hah! thanks Deb! Appreciate the support much-ly! :)