Since 1992 Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House series has inspired and enchanted millions of young children around the world. Her wildly popular chapter books follow siblings Jack and Annie as they travel to distant times and places with the help of their magic tree house. To accompany these fiction books, Mary Pope Osborne also co-authors nonfiction research guides with her sister and husband. Most recently, she and her husband have co-produced a Magic Tree House musical, which will begin traveling to theaters across the United States in the fall of 2008.
You can watch the interview below, view the interview transcript, read a short biography of Mary Pope Osborne, or see a selected list of her children's books. (This video is also available on YouTube and iTunes.)
Mary Pope Osborne grew up in a military family that moved often. By the time she was 15, she had lived in Oklahoma, Austria, Florida, and four different Army posts in Virginia and North Carolina. Mary and her three siblings learned to play together, make new friends, and eagerly look forward to each new adventure. Mary in particular lived in a world of her imagination and "couldn't cross the room without thinking that I was in a movie or I was a cowboy or I was in an alternate reality." When her family finally settled down in a small Southern town, Mary turned to theater to satisfy her creative and imaginative nature.
After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the early 1970s, Mary set off on an adventure of her own. She traveled through Europe with a friend and ended up camping out in a cave on the coast of Crete. Short on money and cooking local food on a kerosene stove, Mary met a group of young travelers and accepted an invitation to accompany them on their journey eastward. The group traveled overland by van through countries such as Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. When Mary reached Nepal, she fell ill and eventually returned back to the United States.
While living in Washington, DC, Mary attended a musical and fell in love with the actor who played Jesse James. The following year Mary moved to New York City and married that actor, whose real name was Will Osborne. In the big city Mary worked as a waitress, bartender, acting teacher, and assistant editor. Her writing career began with a young adult novel called Run, Run As Fast As You Can. By 1991 Mary had written about 20 children's books that ranged from mysteries to folklore to picture books.
In 1992 Mary Pope Osborne wrote the first of what she assumed would be a short, four-book series about two siblings who travel to distant places in a magic tree house. But when letters started pouring in from children, parents, and teachers, Osborne realized that these short chapter books had struck a chord. Over the following 15 years, she wrote more than 40 Magic Tree House books and became one of the most popular children's book authors in the United States and around the world.
After 26 years in New York City, Mary Pope Osborne and her husband moved to a house on a lake in Connecticut. In their spare time, they like to read, kayak, and hike with their dogs.