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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the third book in the "Magic Tree House" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

After two visits to a tree house that has taken them to faraway places, Jack and his younger sister, Annie, return. They hear a strange noise, which Jack says sounds like coughing, coming from outside the tree house, and wonder whether it could be the mysterious person who filled the tree house with books. They want to find the owner of the tree house, but when they look for the person, they do not find anyone nearby.

Annie locates a book about ancient Egypt and wants to visit the pyramids. Jack agrees and opens the book to a page marked with a green bookmark. When he points to a picture of a pyramid, the tree house begins to spin. The children look outside and see a black cat wearing a gold collar perched on a tree branch. Once the tree house stops spinning, they look outside to find that they have landed in the desert. The same black cat is at the bottom of the tree, meowing loudly.

A parade of Egyptians is marching toward one of the pyramids nearby. Jack reads about the royal funeral procession that took place after the death of someone important. Annie reminds her brother that there is a mummy in the coffin. They decide to get a closer look, but when they run toward the procession, all of them disappear. Jack wonders whether the parade was a mirage. They follow the black cat into a dark hole in the pyramid.

Jack reads that pyramids were called Houses of the Dead. As he checks a picture in the book to find the way to the burial chamber, they hear a loud screeching noise and see a white figure rush past them. It drops a gold scepter nearby and then disappears. At first the children are afraid they've seen a ghost. Then Jack reads that robbers sometimes entered the pyramids to steal treasures from the tombs. He writes the information down in his notebook with the other things he has learned.

They encounter a second figure that looks like an Egyptian woman and try to give her the scepter, but she is a ghost. She tells the children that she is Hutepi, Queen of the Nile, and that she has been waiting 1,000 years for someone to help her find the Book of the Dead so she can travel to the next life. The book contains magic spells that will help her conquer the poisonous snakes and other dangers of the Underworld. The ghost queen points to some hieroglyphic drawings on the pyramid. Her brother left these as clues to where he hid the book. She asks Jack to help her decipher them.

The drawings resemble stairs, a boat, a jug and a piece of folded cloth. Jack and Annie follow the ghost queen through the pyramid where they climb stairs and locate a boat with a jug in it. Inside the jug is a piece of folded cloth wrapped around a scroll, which they guess is the queen's book. They want to give it to her, but she disappears.

After a search, the children find her mummified body in a gold coffin. The bandages have fallen off of her face. They can see her bones, rotting flesh, empty eye sockets and broken teeth. In his book, Jack reads how the Egyptians preserved dead bodies with salt and covered them with oil before removing the brains. Annie is so disgusted by these details that she runs away.

Jack places the scepter and the scroll inside the coffin with the mummy and hurries after his sister, but at first, they can't find one another in the darkness. The minute they reunite, the door at the top of the stairs closes, and all of the torches go out. Annie and Jack are able to feel their way through the pitch dark to another set of stairs, but they can't push the door open. Then they hear the meowing of the black cat, and they follow the familiar sound to a tunnel that leads them out of the pyramid and into daylight, where the tree house waits.

When they're both safely inside, Jack points to the picture of Frog Creek and wishes to go home. The tree house begins to spin wildly, and when it lands, they are back in Pennsylvania. Before going home, they straighten up the books inside the tree house, and Annie notices the shape of the letter M on the wooden floor. Jack is certain that this is a sign that the tree house belongs to a magic person whose name begins with the letter M. Annie and Jack return to their house for lunch and find that their mother has made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, just as they hoped she would.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

The children refer to the tree house as a magic place and believe that a supernatural person has filled it with magical books that allow them to travel through time. Outside of the pyramid, the children see a parade of Egyptians, which Annie believes are ghosts because they disappear. While in the pyramid, the children encounter a tomb robber and discuss Egyptian beliefs that include using magic spells to travel through the Underworld to the next life. Thinking that the black cat is magic, the children follow it so they can leave the pyramid.

Authority Roles

As the older sibling, Jack is the authority figure in the relationship. He warns Annie to stay close to him and not talk too loudly in the pyramid. When Annie doesn't understand something, such as the concept of a mirage or the purpose of a scepter, Jack explains it to her.


The children come upon the mummified body of an Egyptian queen.  Annie is sickened by the corpse's bald skull, rotting bandages, broken teeth and hollow eye sockets. Jack insists on reading aloud the procedure of preparing a dead body for burial, which includes removing the person's brain. Annie refuses to listen and runs away, becoming separated from her brother in the dark pyramid.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

5 to 8


Mary Pope Osborne






Record Label



Random House


On Video

Year Published





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