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Half Magic (1954)

by Edward Eager

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Magic Books Reading Order (1)

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3,319722,736 (4.01)95
Four children looking forward to an ordinary summer enjoy a series of fantastic adventures by double-wishing on an ancient coin.

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Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
This book, written in 1954, has the feeling of an even earlier time. This isn't surprising as Eager liked and emulated E. Nesbit who wrote in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since I enjoy stories of that time, I loved this book. It is a quiet fantasy where the fantasy intrudes into the mundane world we live in.

For me, it had the perfect mix of humor, fantasy, and morality. Even though it was written for children, there are enough references written for adults that I found it perfect.

I think this might be a good book for parents to read to young children so that they can explain how it was for their grandparents when they were young. It is also a good book for adults who are still willing to read simple stories. I highly recommend it. ( )
  Jean_Sexton | Jun 20, 2020 |
This was one of my favorites as a child, and it's still comforting to me now as an adult. I especially enjoy the illustrations by N. M. Bodecker. ( )
  mike.wallace | Jan 10, 2020 |
Very happy to be re-reading this with my daughter. The humor holds up quite well -- my 6yo is laughing quite a lot at the antics of Carrie the half-talking cat, for instance. There's some cultural history to explain -- what's "Western Union", for instance ("texting before we had cell phones," I said). [return][return]There's also some racist language and some gender issues. The "shifty" Arab they encounter, for instance, and then they wish him to have what he deserves and he gets a wife and six children. Even though Eager ended up using it to discuss colonialism, basically, the language and characterization was problematic and shouldn't pass without discussion. [return][return]* Update: Now that I've finished, I have a few more comments to make along similar lines. There's a continued thread of what I would call minor sexism. The girls do the dishes; the boy & man start the fire. Minor enough that you can re-gender as you read aloud, or discuss it in a joint read. There's a scene with two burglars where they're using some kind of vernacular. The race of the characters isn't mentioned, but the vernacular reads to me like it's intended to be African-American rather than, say, New Jersey. This was unpleasant to read, saved only because I let myself think maybe it was just some kind of weird New Jersey (or similar regional) accent.[return][return]But his characterizations of the main characters are pretty solid. The girls are diverse and have strong opinions and distinct characters, just like the boy, which is half the battle, I think. [return][return]And the stories retain their humor and winsomeness. So, we'll pick up the next one (Magic by the Lake), which was one of my absolute favorites as a kid. ( )
  adaq | Dec 25, 2019 |
This isn’t my favorite Edward Eager book, but it’s the only one I have so far. So! Half Magic is a cute book, though not without its 1950s problems of light racism/sexism. The girls are all preteen housewives, and there’s a semi-uncomfortable scene with the kids and an Arabian villain. However! There’s ALSO another scene where Katherine turns herself into a knight and kicks Lancelot in the rear during a tournament. So it kinda balances out!

I also really adore the little romance between the kids’ mother and the not-terrible adult man who help them untwist their problems. Plus, happy ending! Yay!

There’s seven books in this series but I think they all have different kids in them– so if you hated these kids, you aren’t stuck with them for long. What I really want to read is the Edward Eager book I meant to buy when I bought Half Magic. It wasn’t in the store back then, and it’s been SO long since that time that I can no longer remember wtf the book I wanted IS. Maybe it was Magic or Not? That sounds familiar. Le sigh. ( )
  doctorsidrat | Dec 9, 2018 |
This is a good fantasy book for elementary school age readers. It is an easy read and even though it is all about the adventures that the children wish for it has a twist to it that most early readers will not be expecting. The main characters travel back, and have adventures in the present because of their wishes, and they learn to be more careful about their wishes and they become closer as a family through their adventures.
  BurgessMeredith | Jun 28, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edward Eagerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bodecker, N.M.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quentin BlakeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It began one day in summer about thirty years ago, and it happened to four children.
"It's that nickel I found, only it isn't a nickel! It's a magic charm and it does things by halves! So far we've each go half of what we wished for - all we have to do from now on is ask for twice as much as we really want! You see?"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Four young children living with their single mother in the 1920s discover a magic coin that grants exactly half of whatever they wish for.
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