Thursday, February 09, 2012

Book #6: Half Magic (Edward Eager)

Still, even without the country or a lake, the summer was a fine thing, particularly when you were at the beginning of it, looking ahead into it. There would be months of beautifully long, empty days, and each other to play with, and the books from the library. ~ Edward Eager, Half Magic

Our local, independent used bookstore has a birthday club, and both of my kids signed up for it before they had to close the list.  Each year near their birthdays, one of the owners sends them a book and a $5 gift card in a packing envelope she decorates herself with beautiful drawings.  We fill out a card every few years with some of their favorite books, and she picks out a book just for them based on what she knows about their reading tastes.

Half Magic is the book that came in the mail for Felix this year.  Skye had read it several years earlier and remembered enjoying it, so they both requested it as our next read-aloud.  What a lovely, magical book!  We all enjoyed it tremendously.

As you can see from the above quote, the book is definitely a fun one for book lovers.  Eager thought E. Nesbit (who I have yet to read) was the greatest children's author of all time, and he admires other books, too, like The Wizard of Oz.  He references these directly and indirectly in his own stories.  In the first chapter of Half Magic, we learn that this summer, Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha have read all of E. Nesbit's books but one, and they are finally able to check out her last one from the library, The Enchanted Castle.  They read it aloud together over the next two days, and upon closing the book, Martha, the youngest, asks:
"Why don't things like that ever happen to us?"
"Magic never happens, not really," said Mark, who was old enough to be sure about this.
Don't be so sure, Mark! we all thought on reading this.  Just look at the title of the book you are in!

Of course, the children soon find some magic, and proceed to experiment with it.  Each chapter describes a magical adventure they have, and I love Eager's chapter titles:  How It Began, What Happened to Their Mother, What Happened to [insert each child's name here], How It Ended, and How It Began Again.

Eager's writing style reminded me immediately of Jeanne Birdsall and her Penderwicks books, which Skye and I love.  After reading Half Magic, I think Felix may be ready for them soon, too.  Goody!  Jeanne is definitely a fan of both Eager and Nesbit; she posts quotes from both of them on the pages of her website, including this one from Eager's Seven-Day Magic:
“Why couldn’t she have lived forever?” said Abby, taking that best of all Nesbit books, The Enchanted Castle, down from the shelf and looking at it with loving eyes. “We’ve read all of hers, and nobody seems to do books like that anymore.”
So, like most good books, we not only enjoyed this one, but have added many more to our To Be Read list, including all of Edward Eager's books, some E. Nesbit, The Penderwicks (again), and The Wizard of Oz, which Felix says he wants to read next.  Can't wait!

Be sure to check out the other Read Aloud Thursday posts at Hope Is the Word.


Annie said...

I used to love Half Magic! Glad to hear it holds up.

Alice@Supratentorial said...

Love, love, love Half Magic. I spent a long span of several happy months reading through all the Eager books with my son. They are all fantastic, especially Half Magic and Knight's Castle.

Beth said...

My kids loved Half Magic and E. Nesbit's books are also favorites in our house. I personally love the Penderwicks!

Amy said...

This is one I haven't read - I'll have to had it to my ever-growing list. I love the idea of a birthday club - how exciting!

Caryl said...

Annie, Alice, & Beth -- glad to hear you all love this book, too! I can't wait to read more of Eager's books with them, as well as Nesbit and introducing Felix to the Penderwicks.

Amy, I think you & yours would really enjoy this one.