This is a shout out for Mary Pope Osborne. Last week, during my son’s last week of summer vacation, we savored one of those last home days by reading A Perfect Time for Pandas, the 48th installment in Osborne’s Magic Tree House series, all in one day. Forty-eight is a big number. It is the number I get if I count all my fingers and my toes two times over and then count my eyes and ears two times each as well. It is a long time for two characters and a lot of repetitions of the same story structure. But 110,000-in-base-two books in, Osborne is still writing Magic Tree House books worthy of that special end-of-summer day. Her characters are still learning and surprising us, while also being wonderfully familiar. She found another fresh setting, and once again she touched my heart.
Part of my experience of being “still in awe” is that my heart is open. I let things in. I’m a crier. My son is used to Mom choking up often when we read books. Sometimes tears flow because something is sad, sometimes because something is so beautiful. This book had both. I had sad tears when I read that there are only 1600 pandas in the world. Think of that—seven billion humans, 1600 pandas. I had happy tears when her characters spoke so beautifully about the meanings of the objects they had collected in this and the previous three books. For keeping her series engaging and fresh twice-the-number-of-hours-in-a-day books into her series, Mary Pope Osborne has my admiration and appreciation.