A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Harry Mazer (A Boy at War), Ron Goor (Insect Metamorphosis), Elaine Moore (Get That Girl Out of the Boysâ€™ Locker Room! ), and Will Hillenbrand (Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep! ).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Walt Whitman (1819-1892) Leaves of Grass, Elizabeth Coatsworth (1893-1986), The Cat Who Went to Heaven, and Jay Williams (1914-1978), Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like.
- In 1927, the last Ford Model T rolled off the assembly line after a production run of over fifteen million vehicles. Read Tin Lizzie by Allan Drummond, and Mama and Me and the Model T by Faye Gibbons, illustrated by Ted Rand.
â€śIt began one day in summer about thirty years ago, and it happened to four children.â€ť So begins the book of the day, a perfect story about summer. This book holds a unique place in the childrenâ€™s book canon. It is the only one I know where the author admitted to copying, shamelessly, from anotherÂ author in style and spirit. But in the case of Edward Eager, he always claimed that Half Magic, and other books in the series, stood as a way to lead young readers back to the master: E. Nesbit.
Whatever he owes to Nesbit, Edward Eager invented an absolutely intriguing premise for a fantasy novel. Four childrenâ€”Jane, Mark, Kathleen, and Marthaâ€”find a magical coin, which grants wishes. What could be better? Except this coin proves to be tricky. It grants only half a wish. The children quickly learn that wishes have to be carefully framed or they lead to a lot of difficulties. Young Martha, for instance, wishes for the cat to talk, but it only manages a flow of half-meaningless words. But one thing is certain. The coin provides a lot of excitement for the summer.
Like Pete Seeger, Eager dropped out of Harvard College. While there he produced a play so successful that he left to write plays and songs for theater, radio, and television. It wasnâ€™t until he had a son that he began to read the books of English fantasy writer E. Nesbit. These books were grounded in â€śeverydayâ€ť magic, things that could occur in the lives of ordinary children living normal lives. Eager drew from Nesbitâ€™s structure and ideas for all of the seven books in his series and combined realism with exciting magical adventures. In these books a child doesnâ€™t have to be attending Hogwarts for exciting events to happen. He or she can just live on an average block in an average cityâ€”like Toledo, Ohio, Eagerâ€™s home townâ€”and fabulous eventsÂ still occur.
Although Eagerâ€™s work went out of print for a short period, the fantasy craze brought about by the boy wizard Harry Potter brought it quickly back into favor. Plot-driven, with a huge dollop of humor and inventiveness, Half Magic and its sequels appeal greatly to those in second to fourth grades hunting for a accessible fantasy novel.
Even if you donâ€™t find a magic coin this summer, Half Magic will allow you to think about what you would wish forâ€”divided by half.
And so naturally they all woke up even earlier than usual this morning, and Jane started right in reading out loud and didn’t stop till she got to the end of the last page.
And now yesterdayThe Enchanted Castle had come in, and they took it out, and Jane, because she could read fastest and loudest, read it out aloud all the way home, and when they got home she went on reading, and when their mother came home they hardly said a word to her, and when dinner was served they didn’t notice a thing they ate. Bedtime came at the moment when the magic ring in the book changed from a ring of invisibility to a wishing ring. It was a terrible place to stop, but their mother had one of her strict moments; so stop they did.
There was a contented silence when she closed the book, and then, after a little, it began to get discontented.
Martha broke it, saying what they were all thinking.
“Why don’t things like that ever happen tous?”
Originally posted May 31, 2011. Updated for .