By Mary Pope Osborne & Mary Pope Osborne
Random House Books for Young Readers, $5.99, 123 pages
Many of the widely popular books in The Magic Tree House series for older elementary-aged children have a nonfiction companion book that delves into the facts behind the story. For the companion to Night of the Ninjas, in which globe-trotting and time-traveling siblings Jack and Annie find themselves apprenticing under a ninja in ancient Japan in order to avoid samurai warriors, series author Mary Pope Osborne and her sister Natalie Pope Boyce highlight the important role of ninjas and samurai in Japanese history, details of their weapons and armor, how they fought, and their legacy today. While the fiction book is full of an adventurous story and the lively yet formula-like narrative will appeal to this series’ readership, Fact Tracker: Ninjas and Samurai will fulfill another reading niche for middle-aged readers: information. Each chapter is filled with enough facts about ninjas and samurai to quench the curiosity of eager learners. The authors also include a list of more resources to learn about this topic, from books and DVDs to museums and websites one could visit. This Ninjas and Samurai is the 30th Fact Tracker to accompany titles in the now 52-book Magic Tree House series. If the whole series receives non-fiction companion books, then this will be a wonderful educational resource.
Reviewed by Michael Barton