The Magic of Half Magic

20171007ma_5029The magic of Edward Eager’s Half Magic isn’t always the actual magic in the book. Yes, there’s a charm that grants wishes (or, to be more accurate, half-wishes!). What’s really magical about the book, is Eager’s way of putting things. Usually, it’s some little aside. Something quick.

And then there is this delightful passage. It happens when the four children (Jane, Mark, Katherine, and Martha) first meet Mr. Smith, a new grown-up that has entered their lives…

The four children generally divided all grown ups into four classes. There were the ones like Miss Bick and Uncle Edwin and Aunt Grace and Mrs. Hudson whofrankly, and cruel as it might be to say itjust weren’t good with children at all. There was nothing to do about these, the four children felt, except be as polite as possible and hope they would go away soon.

Then there were the ones like Miss Mamie King, whowhen they were with childrenalways seemed to want to pretend they were children, too. This was no doubt kindly meant, but often ended with the four children’s feeling embarrassed for them.

Somewhat better were the opposite ones who went around treating children as though the children were as grown-up as they were themselves. This was flattering, but sometimes a strain to live up to. Many of the four children’s school teachers fell into this class.

Last and best and rarest of all were the ones who seemed to feel that children were children and grown ups were grown ups and that was that, and yet at the same time there wasn’t any reason why they couldn’t get along perfectly well and naturally together, and even occasionally communicate, without changing that fact.

Mr. Smith turned out to one of these.

Half Magic, by Edward Eager (Chapter 6)

This is why I love to read (and re-read) books by Edward Eager! It’s the magic of his words. 🙂

14 thoughts on “The Magic of Half Magic

      • I’ve just finished my second Edith Nesbit book (on recommendation from E. E., of course). I’m aware that her later books were better than her earliest ones (which I am starting with), but so far I still prefer Edward over Edith. I feel his children characters are more identifiable.

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      • Not sure which books you’ve read, but here are my favourites. (And yes, they happen to be some of her early stuff.)

        1. I love, love, love THE STORY OF THE TREASURE SEEKERS (my absolute favourite) – I love the Bastable Family, and Albert-Next-Door’s Uncle, and (well, I won’t spoil things if you haven’t read this one.) — The WOULDBEGOODS is also very good (the sequel) — Note: there really is no magic in this book, but plenty of imagination.

        2. FIVE CHILDREN AND IT — This one incorporates magic/wishes, so it’s probably the most like Eager’s works. Love this family as well. And It, too. THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET is the sequel and is also very good. (I’m not crazy about the third book in this series which is called The Story of the Amulet. It has an ending that weirds me out.)

        3. THE MAGIC CITY and THE ENCHANTED CASTLE are tied for the next spot. They are NOT related to each other. The Magic City is what inspired Eager’s Knight’s Castle.

        4. THE RAILWAY CHILDREN – I like this book. I don’t love it, but I like it. It’s probably the sappiest of the bunch.

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      • I started with the Five Children & It, and now have finished Phoenix & Magic Carpet. I liked the second much better! Probably because of all of the different exotic locales…

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      • Yes, I think I also like Phoenix just a tad better, too. I love the episode in the tower. You can probably tell from these two books alone the inspiration they gave to writers like Edward Eager and also to C.S. Lewis. E. Nesbit was definitely a Victorian (albeit a very edgy Victorian in her personal life) and her plots/characters tend to show this Victorian-ness.

        If you like the magical-themed worlds, I’d continue with The Enchanted Castle (I like the characters in this one) and also The Magic City (characters are so-so, but the Magic City itself is worth the read, especially since the concept gets a nod in Eager’s Knight’s Castle).

        P.S. I also hope that you will give The Treasure Seekers a try. IMHO, it’s her best work. But, it you are expecting magic, you will be disappointed. However, there’s plenty of imagination on the Lewisham Road as the family of six children seek to restore the house of the Bastables.

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      • Yes, I plan on working my way through the Nesbit canon. 🙂
        On Eager… My favorite so far is Knight’s Castle because I also love Ivanhoe! And the Time Garden was a riot. I haven’t read all of them yet (kind of saving reading them because I don’t want to get to the end of them!).

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