I have seen Half Magic by Edward Eager on many favorite books lists (including this one), so when I saw a slipcased set of Eager’s books, I bought it. Our last chapter book was Rascal, which was a difficult but enjoyable story, so I was ready for something that was a little easier on the brain. Now that I’ve read Half Magic, I’m not sure that it was a whole lot easier to read aloud, but it is more lighthearted in tone and more suspenseful, and we all enjoyed it.
In a nutshell, this is the plot: four siblings find in their possession a magic coin that will grant half of any wish they make. Mischief and mayhem ensue. All is well in the end, and they even (spoiler alert!) get an understanding stepfather out of it. As the story progresses, each sibling takes a turn making a wish, and they are (mostly) careful to wish for twice what they actually want (for example, if they wish to go home, they wish to go twice as far as home). In the course of their wishing they meet Sir Lancelot, they cause a stampede at a movie theater, and one of them even gets to experience not being herself (er, halfway, that is). Of course, they can’t help but make off-the-cuff wishes at times, too, and these are the ones that get them into the most trouble. (Question: how many times have I wished for something without thinking about the consequences? It’s something to think about.) The story includes a hint of romance involving their widowed mother, too, which I think is a nice touch. The children in the story are a little bit cheeky, but not too much. As I noted before, I enjoyed the story, but I wasn’t enthralled with it. Perhaps I expected too much from it after seeing it on so many lists. The chapters in this book are long, which is one thing that made it a difficult read-aloud; we read in small spurts while I’m nursing the baby or as we’re finishing up a meal, etc. I do think the girls liked it, and Lulu even read ahead in it a bit once when I stopped at a particularly suspenseful part. The most notable thing I remember from the story is Eager’s multiple references to the author E. Nesbit. In fact, the biographical sketch at the end of our book says this:
In each of [Eager’s] books he carefully acknowledges his indebtedness to E. Nesbit, whom he considered the best children’s writer of all time–“so that any child who likes my books and doesn’t know hers may be led back to the master of us all.”
I’ve never read anything by Nesbit, but the girls have listened to the audio version of The Railway Children over and over and over and over, and we have Five Children and It on a shelf somewhere. I think we need to read it soon. I’ve read that the book Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder pays homage to Eager and Half Magic. Has anyone read it? I’m sure it’s worth investigating. I know we’ll eventually get back to the other “Tales of Magic” in our Eager set, too. While Half Magic isn’t the best book I’ve read, it is clever, and I like clever a lot.
For a change, we’re reading Magical Melons, a collection of Caddie Woodlawn short stories by Carol Ryrie Brink, next. (Am I the only one who didn’t know this book exists? I found it on the shelf at the library!) I’m curious to find out why these melons are magical; for some reason I can’t quite envision where these stories might go, given what I know about Caddie Woodlawn. I’ll be sure to tell you all about it when we’re through. 🙂
What are you enjoying with your children these days? Leave a link or just tell me about it in the comments.
Have a terrific Read Aloud Thursday!