Now, I’m a winter girl, through and through, but when the lightning bugs start to rise up out of the grass, I start to ache for the summers from when I was little. Unfortunately, all the kids who used to comeoutandplay have moved on, and I’ve been trying to eat less dirt, so I was at a loss for a way to revisit my summers.
Then I remembered Edward Eager. Eager was a Harvard grad and a sophisticated, grown-up playwright. He never thought about writing children’s books until he had his own son. They quickly read through Eager’s favorites, E. Nesbit’s fairy stories and the Oz books, but then Eager couldn’t find anything else to read to his kid. So he decided to write the stories himself. Writer’s perogative.
Half Magic is Eager’s first fairy tale. It’s about a group of four children, three girls and one boy, who recently lost their father. (Those unfortunate children who keep both their parents must resign themselves to utterly uninteresting lives.) Their mother can’t afford to take them to the country for vacation, and the kids are at a loss for a way to make their summer worthwhile. One day, while on their way to the library, the children find an old, worn nickel.
After a few accidental mis-wishes and much discussion, the kids realize that it’s the coin they found that’s causing the magic–well, a little magic. Somehow, because of the age and wear of the coin, it will only grant half of each wish.
The wishes, done by halves, bring the kind of adventures you only find in proper fairy tales. They have rules and consequences and the adventure is in learning how to manipulate the magic. Each child gets a day in charge of the wishing, and each day of wishes gets a few chapters to play out.
Later on in the book, when the children understand the coin fully, the wishes get a bit boring–”I wish X times two” takes care of the guess work–but until then, there are several good mishaps. (My favorite is when they wish that the cat can talk. Have you ever met a cat who can half talk? That’s not a happy cat.)
So, if you need a way to rekindle your vacation time, check out Edward Eager’s books. (Read the first chapter of HM here.) They’re fast, funny, charming reads. Most of them take place over the course of a few warm days, and they’ll all bring you back to the time when lightning bugs were only a fraction of your summer magic.
- You’re looking for the most appealing way possible to spend an afternoon with fractions.
- You can’t find anyone to play Ghost in the Graveyard with.
- You want a proper fairy tale.
Disclaimer: I got this book and many others from my family’s close friend, Jeri. Every year for my birthday, Jeri would give me a big box of old books. (These would last me a couple of days, and then my reading habits would continue to be a financial burden for my parents, who raised me to buy books before food, and gladly kept me fed.) Jeri introduced me to lots of my favorites, and I’d be remiss not to mention her in a post about Edward Eager. If I didn’t give her credit, she’d threaten to tan my fanny.
Leave a comment
Want to receive new posts in your email? Subscribe here!
This blog belongs to Jesse Doogan.
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- June 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010