Katie has sprinted ahead of me in reading Half Magic, so I’d better get reading! We are both finding it a very quickly-engaging story with one of the funny high points being when the family cat gets wished halfway into being able to talk.
For now, I’ll share what little I’ve found out about author Edward Eager – unlike Laura Ingalls Wilder, he does not have multiple websites dedicated to preserving every tidbit of his life. Here’s what I found out on Wikipedia (and any other site that mentioned his life):
Eager was born in 1911 in Toledo, Ohio. He was a 1935 graduate of Harvard University, and after graduation he moved to New York City. After 14 years in the Big Apple, he moved to Connecticut. In 1938, he married Jane Eberly and they had a son, Fritz. Eager had been a great fan of L. Frank Baum’s Oz series as a child, and when he couldn’t find enough magical type stories to read to his son, he started writing his own. He also acknowledged a debt to the books of E. Nesbit (author of The Railway Children), whom he considered the best children’s author of all time.
In addition to writing 10 children’s novels, Eager was a playwright and lyricist with more than a dozen operettas, revues and musical comedies to his credit. And he did all of this writing before what seems to me a rather early death at 53 (my own age).
Half Magic was only the beginning of a 7-book series of magical stuff, moving on with the same family of kids as they grow up with magic, and then their children carry on with the same habit. (Katie has already asked me hopefully if there are more books that follow this one.)
This story is a fun read, featuring some pretty normal 1950s kids – 3 sisters and a brother – who face a dull summer, or so they think, while their widowed mother works at the second-best newspaper in town and they are home with an unimaginative and unfun babysitter. But then one of them picks up what appears to be an ordinary nickel on the sidewalk, some rather surprising things begin to happen and the summer suddenly promises to be a lot more interesting than they could have hoped (even though it means they have to exercise their math skills a bit, since the magic only works halfway – as you might have figured out by the title).
A bit about the illustrator tomorrow, and then we’ll probably be ready to review!