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Marilee J. Layman

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06:28 pm: The Magic books by Edward Eager
1. Half Magic
2. Magic By The Lake
3. Knight's Castle
4. The Time Garden
5. Magic or Not?
6. The Well-Wishers
7. Seven-Day Magic

I'd heard so many people mention the first book that I decided I wanted to read it. I found a nice boxed set of all seven on eBay for $10 and bought it. Note that I have listed the books in internal chronological order rather than publishing order which swaps 2 & 3.

All of these books are about children (usually a batch of four or five) finding something magic and using it for adventures. Books 1 & 2 go together, then 3 & 4, then 5 & 6, and then 7. It's clear that there was meant to be a sequel like the others, but he died two years after 7 was published (at age 53) and I guess he just didn't get to it. They're pleasant reading, not challenging.

I noticed a lot more word play and allusions in the first four books. The last three not only are more literal, but church steps in. They don't do magic on Sunday and in books 5 & 6, a church is peripherally involved in the story. I don't know if he changed his beliefs between 4 & 5 or if the times had changed. (I'm not finding much about him online.)

The boxed set I have was from Scholatic in 1999 and has tacky cartoony illos on the fronts & backs of the books (plus the box) but the original very good illos are inside.

I'd say this was still a good set of books to read to kids or for kids to read themselves. They need to be able to deal with the past.

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[User Picture]
From:shana
Date:September 7th, 2007 10:44 pm (UTC)
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These books led me to E. Nesbit and Knight's Castle inspired me to read Ivanhoe. It was MUCH later that I saw the movie.

[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:September 7th, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC)
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I don't think I'll try Nesbit, since they seem to be similar. I read Ivanhoe when I was a kid -- I just recently threw out my mother's copy because it had become too dusty and old for me to open.
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From:shana
Date:September 7th, 2007 10:59 pm (UTC)
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Well, Nesbit is available on Project Gutenberg if you want to sample her books. They are period pieces, though. And The Railway Children is one of her books with no fantasy in it, if you want to sample her style without the magic.
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From:bibliofile
Date:September 7th, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC)
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I never read The Railway Children, just Three Children and It. I don't remember much about it, though.

Of the Eager books, I think my faves were Half Magic and The Enchanted Castle. I kept feeling like they could have happened with me, had i had the fortune to have been born in Britain. (I guess my Anglophilia started earlier than I realized.)
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:September 8th, 2007 12:24 am (UTC)
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All the Magic books were set in the US. The first two in Toledo OH and the others in Baltimore and outside NYC.
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From:bibliofile
Date:September 10th, 2007 03:28 am (UTC)
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You'[re right, of course. No idea which books I'm confusing them with, though.
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From:kip_w
Date:September 8th, 2007 12:11 am (UTC)
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The Railway Children is the only Nesbit I've read so far. I've read all the Eager books now (and sighed that there were no more to read), and Ivanhoe. I sighed last year as I bought our library's former copy of Seven Day Magic for a quarter, to think that kids won't be checking it out. I'm glad they're still being sold at Barnes & Noble, anyway.

I loved how Half Magic turns up again in Seven Day Magic. And I'm grateful to Eager for the revelation -- though in retrospect, I should've known -- that silent movies weren't silent, because at every showing, there was at least one person who had to read all the titles out loud. Slice of life!
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:September 8th, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)
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Hmmm, I was thinking of passing these on to you guys after a friend borrows them (his mother couldn't get him to read them when he was young -- he's 25, which is still young! -- and he's willing to try Half Magic). Do you have all of them? Should I still send them up? It's a nice set.
[User Picture]
From:kip_w
Date:September 9th, 2007 10:50 pm (UTC)
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I keep wanting to say "yes," but I'd better not. We already have a set, including two copies of one book. I do hope to interest Sarah in these one day, when she's into longer stories and chapters. What I'd really like to do is give them to our library to put on their shelves, but they probably want the space for newer series fiction involving ghosts and snot and stuff like that. They are desperately short on space, I guess.

Thanks, though. Knowing these books as I do, it's one of the best offers I've had.
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:September 9th, 2007 11:53 pm (UTC)
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If you have your own set, it wouldn't make sense! I'll ask around. If nothing else I can give them to the Friends of the Library and someone will surely buy them at the sales.
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From:ritaxis
Date:September 8th, 2007 02:29 am (UTC)
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Nesbit's really different. Eager's inspiration was to write Nesbit-equivalent for his children. Now they're all cultural education.

My kids adored both Eager and Nesbit.
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From:skylarker
Date:September 9th, 2007 12:32 am (UTC)
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I loved the Edward Eager books when I was in grade school; they surely helped to put me on the path to f/sf fandom that I went on to follow.
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From:kate_schaefer
Date:September 11th, 2007 04:11 pm (UTC)
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I adored these when I was a child. I took them out of the Worthington Public Library again and again and again. I've stocked the grandchildren's guest room with them, and they've been read by two out of three grandchildren. The third is just coming up on the age of reading them, maybe this year, maybe next year.

The original illustrations are a large addition to the charm of the books themselves.
[User Picture]
From:mjlayman
Date:September 11th, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC)
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Yes, it was obvious to me immediately that the box and then front & back illos were the wrong time and I hurriedly opened a book to make sure Scholastic hadn't redone the inside ones! With the inside ones, you always know who's who and even though they're very simple drawings, the children's expressions are always captured.

I don't think the cats are going to read them so when my friend finishes, I'll find a new home for them.

(Uhoh, three police cars down the parking lot very quickly. We don't have that very often.)
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