by Edward Eager, published 1954
“This summer, the children had found some books by a writer named E. Nesbit, surely the most wonderful books in the world. They read every one that the library had, right away…”
If the children in Half Magic hadn’t discovered the children’s books by E. Nesbit, neither would I, and this website probably wouldn’t exist. By a wonderful use of writing and clever weaving of real and imagination, Edward Eager allows us to find out about the person who inspired his own writing, E. Nesbit, and, lets us see how much he learned from her. Like walking a magic labyrinth, I first read the books by Eager, then found Nesbit, and then went back to Eager and was amazed at how much more the books reveal about his devotion to her style of weaving magic into ordinary life. As he himself writes, “…any child who likes my books and doesn’t know hers may be led back to the master of us all.”
As for Half Magic, it surely stands on its own, whether you know and love Nesbit or not. It is flawless from beginning to end, a story in the true sense of storytelling. One moves with the children, wonders with them, laughs with them, and transforms with them. Each of the four children in the story undergo a transformation for the better, and they all learn from each other. But along the way, magic happens. And magic happens over and over again.
In another post, I mentioned that children gravitate towards different books depending on their temperament. Some want practical, down to earth books, and others thrive on imagination. I myself love to be transported into the worlds of magic and the impossible. So for those like me, who crave imagination, and an escape from the solidness of daily life, Half Magic and the others in the series, will not be able to put this down. It’s also a book that you can read again and again. Both boys and girls will enjoy it as there are a mix of genders in the main characters. I classify it as contemporary because it was written in the twentieth century, but my guess is this will rank among classics in the future.