Magic or Not?
by Edward Eager, published 1959
“Just ’cause magic never happened to you, it doesn’t meant it isn’t lurking around still, waiting to turn up when you least expect it!”
With an unusual turn from Eager’s other magic books, like Half Magic, this children’s book puts magic squarely in the realm of human activity. In that sense, the book might disappoint those who love the fantasy of magic, that Eager and his inspiration, E. Nesbit offer. However, it’s a fitting children’s book in the age of cynicism, where it may be hard to summon up the childhood beliefs, and also hard to let go of them.
Each of the incidents in this book are attributed to magic at the same time that they are directly linked to the activities of the children and others. Perhaps another word for magic would be synchronicity. The magic is holding a feeling of wonder when the universe works the way it does – helping an old woman stay in her home (written with a great sense of insight about the challenges older people face in staying in their homes), or in helping a spoiled young boy finally make friends. In short, this book is about seeing that it is our good intentions that make magic happen.
Many of the experiences in this children’s book revolve around friendship- learning to accept others for who they are, and listening to one’s own compassionate heart. A well-written and thoughtful, magical children’s book, with well-placed bits of humor here and there. It’s probably better if the reader has read a few of the other Edward Eager books first, not because the characters are the same but just to appreciate the new slant on magic that this book offers. (I included this for younger children, because some 8-year-olds might be able to enjoy it as well.)