Polar Bears Past Bedtime — "Magic Tree House" Series
This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the 12th book in the "Magic Tree House" series.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
The sound of an owl hooting draws Jack to his window. He calls to Annie. He thinks Morgan, the enchantress, sent the owl. The children put on their shoes and sneak out of the house. In the woods, they discover the magic tree house and Morgan, whose magic transports them and the tree house through time and space.
In an earlier book, Morgan explained that Merlin the magician had put a spell on her, making her unable to collect books for the tree house library. Morgan wanted the children to become Master Librarians so they could collect books. In order to become librarians, Jack and Annie need to solve four riddles. In this book, she gives them the fourth riddle to solve and a book titled Adventure in the Arctic. She tells them that she is sending someone to meet them when they arrive.
After the magic tree house lands in the middle of the snow-covered Arctic tundra, Jack reads the riddle. They are looking for something that covers what's real, hides the truth and promotes courage. Jack and Annie are shaking from cold and worry about freezing to death. Their worrying is interrupted when they hear wolves outside the tree house. A seal hunter appears at the window and tells them he had a dream that they needed his help. Annie tells him that Morgan sent the dream. He gives them warm clothes made out of sealskin. The children follow him outside and discover that the wolves they heard were actually huskies pulling the hunter's sled.
The seal hunter brings Jack and Annie back to his igloo, where he cooks seal meat to feed to his dogs. Annie feels bad for the seal, but the hunter tells her that the seal provides for his people. Without the seals, his people would die. He shows them polar bear masks that will be used in a ceremony to thank the spirit of the polar bear. Like the seal, the hunter believes the polar bear helped his people by teaching them many things. He even claims that the polar bear can teach people to fly.
When Jack, Annie and the hunter go outside to feed the dogs, Jack takes the masks with him. Annie sees two polar bear cubs and begins to play with them. Jack joins her, and they move far from the igloo and follow the cubs onto the ice. When the ice begins to crack, they are stranded. The mother polar bear comes for her cubs, and the children put on the bear masks, hoping the mother bear will think they are bears, too. They make it off the ice by copying the mother bear's actions: sliding on their stomachs to gain speed. Jack feels like he's flying and understands what the hunter meant about polar bears flying.
Back on safe ground, the children thank the polar bear by dancing while wearing the masks. When they finish dancing, they see the northern lights in the sky. The lights disappear, and so do the polar bears. Just then, the seal hunter finds the children, and they tell him that the bear masks made them feel brave. They realize that a mask is the answer to the riddle.
After the hunter returns Jack and Annie to the tree house, they expect the tree house to take them home, but nothing happens. They discover another riddle they must solve before they can return: They must use letters to find the place they love most. The children have given their seal skin coats back to the hunter, so they must solve the riddle before they grow too cold. Using the answers to the riddles from their past adventures, they realize that "home" is the answer. When they return, Morgan gives them magic library cards and tells them they have become Master Librarians.
Other Belief Systems
Jack believes that Annie can understand animals when they speak. He asks her what the owls says in the beginning of the book. The tree house is a magic place belonging to Morgan le Fay, an enchantress. Her magic allows the tree house to transport the children through time and space to the places they find in the books that are in the tree house. The seal hunter talks about a ceremony to thank the spirit of the polar bear, reflecting the belief that animals have spirits. Annie believes that the enchantress has sent a dream to the seal hunter.
The seal hunter talks about hunting seals and using all their body parts to survive.
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