Title: Hour of the Olympics (Magic Tree House Book #16)
Author: Mary Pope Osborne
Illustrator: Sal Murdocca
Publisher: Random House, New York
Genre: Modern Fantasy
Number of Pages: 70
Pub. Date: 1998
Summary: Jack and Annie wake up before the sun to head out on their next Magic Tree House adventure. This time, Margret, their Master Librarian guide, is sending them to ancient Greece to help find a lost story. After receiving their materials, including a research book about Greece and their mission, they are whirled away in their magic treehouse. Once in Greece, they realize that the Olypmic games are about to begin. They run into Plato who teaches them about the different Gods that influence the games and then helps them find the lost story that they were looking for. They learn that women have hardly any rights at all in this time and aren’t even allowed to go watch the Olympic games, so only Jack can go watch the opening ceremonies with Plato. While the chariot racers gather for the start, Jack realizes that Annie snuck in wearing a theatre costume and tries to warn her to get out, but it is too late. She is almost arrested after he costume falls off and her identity is revealed, but Jack summons help and they are saved by Pegasus. When they return home safely, Margret shows them that all of the heroes that they’ve helped in the past few stories are always with them because they are now constellations in the sky.
|The magic tree house|
Critique: The magic tree house book series is a wonderful example of modern fantasy. They fall in the category of magic adventure stories because Jack and Annie find a magic tree house that transports them to the past and to a different place, in this case to ancient Greece. There is good imagery in the book that allows the reader to feel like the tree house really does start spinning and carry them away to this land of the past. The setting takes place in modern times and has two kids as the main characters, which makes the story easy to make connections with for children and captures the readers, then takes them into the past via a magical element. It definitely creates belief in the unbelievable while maintaining a balance between imagination and what we perceive by having the two real settings, the modern subdivision and the past setting like Greece, but then the connection being time travel in a childhood play place.
Response: One place that I would not want to be in this book is ancient Greece. I learned a lot about the roles that women held in this time and place and I know I would have had a hard time accepting them, kind of like Annie did in the story. Back then women weren’t allowed to go to school or any grand event like the Olympics. I have such a strong personality and a great desire for learning that I know I would find it very hard to simply keep my head down and cook and clean. Not being able to read and write would just be so tragic in my life. A huge outlet for me is writing poetry and books allow me to escape from the realities and go on a mini adventure whenever I can pick one up. I can’t imagine not having those things because there would be so much less richness in every day.
Have the class split into partners and create a Venn Diagram comparing the Olympics Then to Olympics Now. Some examples may include: the participants, the events, the setting and the members of the audience. Here’s a website where you can create your own Venn Diagram online and insert all of the information!