Half Magic

Half Magic Cover“In the summer you could take out ten books at a time, instead of three, and keep them a month, instead of two weeks. Of course you could take only four of the fiction books, which were the best, but Jane liked plays and they were nonfiction, and Katherine liked poetry and that was nonfiction, and Martha was still the age for picture books, and they didn’t count as fiction but were often nearly as good.” (Half Magic, by Edward Eager)

Some books are meant to be read during specific seasons, and Half Magic is without a doubt a summer, or a waiting-with-bated-breath-for-summer book. I started it in the dead of winter but put it down immediately to save for a later date when I hit the above quoted slight against non-fiction (it was then that I knew it was going to be good). This book is one of those fantastic mid-century adventure children’s books: simple and charming with plenty of children engaging in what they do best – you know, terrorizing mothers, neighbors and each other all while having the most incredible adventures imaginable.

Eager adds something to his work that occurs altogether too rarely in fiction: he recommends other books within his own. Not only does he include a much-needed put-down of children’s mid-century non-fiction, but he recommends E. Nesbit in all of his works and nods specifically to the Once and Future King here, a personal favorite of mine. It seems so unfair that entirely boring research papers written in APA style refer back infinitely to other equally life-suffocating research papers, yet phenomenal stories rarely acknowledge their predecessors. If more authors did it, we would develop a sort of map of literature where each book would lead immediately to others that might otherwise have been overlooked. Ah, one can only wish.

Beverage: Although the weather is simply dreadful at the moment, I picked out this book on the most beautiful sunlit day in the past six months and thought that it definitely deserved some fresh lemonade.

Reminds me of… When You Reach Me since it is the only other book that I can think of at the moment that recommends another book.

Can you think of any other books that recommend (or knock) their predecessors?

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4 thoughts on “Half Magic

  1. I can remember loving this book so many years ago but I definitely didn’t notice the literary allusions. Then again I can’t recall them in any books that I read recently so that might not be saying much…

    • I don’t think that it’s a very common thing to reference other works in your own, so don’t worry about not remembering any recently. However, if you do notice one, make sure to write back!

  2. Allie and I agree this is a really good book–it was the first one we read in our mother-daughter book club. It is amazing how many of the books you’ve reviewed have been ones we read for our club!

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