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Thursday February 9th

UNC grad’s ‘Magic Tree House’ travels to screen

<p>Courtesy of&nbsp;Elena Seibert</p>
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Courtesy of Elena Seibert

Karin Michel, the manager of youth and family experiences at Chapel Hill Public Library, said the the books are so popular that they are often replaced.

Now, the pages on the story will turn into the story on the screen.

In early February, it was announced that Lionsgate bought the rights to the series. They are currently working on a live-action movie based on Osborne’s 29th book in the series, “Christmas in Camelot.”

For years, several film studios like PBS approached Osborne for the rights to the series. She turned them all down, hoping to keep the series within children’s imaginations.

But when Lionsgate approached Osborne, it was different.

“They all had children. We met people with kids who have read ‘Magic Tree House,’” she said. “There’s just a different feeling than people who are just looking for a product to sell.”

Osborne said the movie will likely be titled “Journey to Camelot,” to make it more of a year-round movie. Both Mary and her husband, Will, are serving as executive producers, with Will also writing the screenplay alongside Jenny Laird.

Currently, the film is in its early production phase.

“We got a deal everyone was happy with, which is so rare,” Mary said. “We feel like, finally, the right people came forward that we could feel comfortable with.”

But the magic in the “Magic Tree House” wasn’t easily created. The trouble was figuring out how to conceptualize time travel.

“I didn’t know how to get two kids back in time,” she said. “So I tried a magic cellar, and I tried magic whistles, and I tried a magic museum and a magic artist studio.”

And after many of these drafts failed, Osborne said she was ready to go back to her other projects. But then she and Will went to Pennsylvania — where main characters Jack and Annie are from.

“I was walking in the woods, and we saw an old tree house, and we started talking about all the things you can do with a treehouse in terms of time travel.”

The rest was history.

Osborne said her time at UNC, where she studied drama and religon, was important for her career.

“It was a wonderful combination of play and imagination, coupled with knowledge about the world,” she said. “And I think that’s still going on with ‘Magic Tree House.’”

At the spring 2013 commencement, Mary was given an honorary doctor of letters from UNC. Professor Bland Simpson, who presented Osborne with the award, said she is an inspiration to writers.

“I’ve known Mary Pope for many, many years. I know her to be extraordinarily thoughtful, purposeful and possessed of a most wonderful, effervescent and positive spirit.”



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