BooksForKidsBlog

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

The Aristotle Adventure: Season of the Sandstorms (Magic Tree House) by Mary Pope Osborne

Jack looks away from his unfinished homework, several pages filled with figures and more figures. For a diversion, he pulls out a small book, TEN MAGIC RHYMES FOR ANNIE AND JACK FROM TEDDY AND KATHLEEN. Jack and Annie had already used three of the rhymes on Merlin Missions. Jack is wishing he were on one of those missions instead of doing arithmetic, just as Annie bursts into his room.

The two rush to Frog Creek woods where the Magic Tree House is waiting in their oak tree. It seems they are called to a Merlin Mission to...BAGHDAD... to help the Caliph spread wisdom to the world. There is a letter of clues and a book to help: THE GOLDEN AGE OF BAGHDAD.

But Jack is not so sure this mission is going to be fun. He and Annie find themselves in a huge desert. Their instructions don't make a lot of sense-- to ride a ship of the desert through the starry night and find a horse who sees all and deliver a book to a friend. They turn to Teddy and Kathleen's rhymes and choose the one that seems to fit:

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"MAKE HELPERS APPEAR!"

And soon they hear the bells of a camel caravan approaching. A kindly camel driver says his name is Mamoon and offers them water and asks them to shake date palms and gather the fruit for the group. Then Mamoon offers to take them to Baghdad, but says they must travel during the cool of the night, and he offers each of them a camel, Cutie and Beauty. The camels sway wildly from side to side, but as usual, Annie is up to it all.

"Isn't this fun?" she laughs.

"Sort of...," said Jack, shivering.

Actually he isn't having any fun at all. He feels seasick and is freezing in the night air. How could the Caliph spread wisdom? And how will they ever get back to the Magic Tree House?

"Jack!" says Annie, "We just solved the first mystery: Ride a ship of the desert through a cold starry night!"

But just as Jack begins to enjoy the ride, the little caravan is attacked by bandits. Mamoon tosses a small wooden chest to him and tells them to protect it and take it to the caliph in Baghdad. Cutie and Beauty veer away through the dunes and race for what seems like miles. When their camels finally stop, Jack decides to bury the precious chest in the sand, just as Mamoon rides up again. When Annie asks if the chest is magic, Mamoon says what it contains is better than magic--it has knowledge of science inside in a special book of writings by a philosopher named Aristotle. But just as they mount their camels to continue their journey, a terrible sandstorm surrounds them, and when it is over, Jack and Annie see the towers of a strange city gleaming in the first rays of the sun. They have reached Baghdad!

Leaving their camels inside a stable, the two make their way toward the palace of the all powerful Caliph, still wondering how they can help him spread wisdom to the world. But then Jack remembers that he left the box with the the book, THE WRITINGS OF ARISTOTLE, in his bag hanging from his camel's saddle. And back in the stable, Jack and Annie see something dreadful.

Jack's bag lay at Beauty's feet. The THE WRITINGS OF ARISTOTLE was open. Wet pages hung in shreds from Beauty's mouth as she happily chewed the precious treasure.

Is there a magical rhyme in the book given to Annie and Jack by Merlin's helpers, Teddy and Kathleen, to help them? Jack opens the rhyme book and they look down the list of spells. Aha!

MEND WHAT CANNOT BE MENDED!

And after restoring the scientific writings of Aristotle to the Caliph of Baghdad to preserve them for the future, Jack and Annie find the Magic Tree House settling down into the big oak tree back in the Frog Creek woods, and Jack finds himself with his homework still waiting for him--but this time he smiles when he realizes that he is doing his math with Arabic numerals from Baghdad, part of the wisdom of the world, in Mary Pope Osborne's time-travel adventure, Season of the Sandstorms (Magic Tree House (R) Merlin Mission) (Random House), Book VI in the Merlin Missions series. Nobody combines magic and mystery, history and science, and the fun of reading beginning chapter adventures that kids love quite like Mary Pope Osborne's long and notable series.

Mary Pope Osborne's and illustrator Sal Murdocca's latest in this series is Hurricane Heroes in Texas (Magic Tree House (R)) (see review here.)

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