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The memory of Half Magic, by Edward Eager, has half-lingered in my mind for several years. I remembered liking the book when I was younger, maybe 8 or 9, but couldn’t recall half-a-thing about it.

Then, over February break, when we went on vacation with my cousins, I brought the book along, in hopes of reading it to my nine-year-old cousin, Matty. Although I didn’t finish reading the book to Matty, I finished by myself, and found it just as charming as I did 4 or 5 years ago.

Half Magic is the tale of four siblings, Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha, who are having the most boring summer of their lives. “The children never went to the country or a lake in the summer,” the author explains on page two, with their mother working all day at the newspaper (they don’t have a father) and leaving them watched over by their dreadfully strict nanny, Miss Bick.

Then Jane finds a coin on the sidewalk, a coin that, as they discover, grants wishes. But it only half-grants them. For example, when Martha wishes the siblings’ cat, Carrie, could talk, Carrie begins spouting gibberish. Or, when Mark wishes his friends were home for the summer, the friends are transported to a location which is half-way home. Even to my thirteen-year-old self, both of these instances were greatly amusing.

And so the story goes on, with the siblings having all sorts of adventures, ending up in the Sahara, in Camelot, and having plenty of excursions in their own town of Toledo, Ohio.

Half Magic was written in 1954, and so it follows an older, more traditional approach. The siblings are four Caucasian kids in the summer, and the book does not really focus on social justice issues or any topic similar to that. There are no serious, underlying themes, no heavy aspect to it. Half Magic really is a tale, a light story designed to entertain, with positive messages and a happy ending.

It is perfect for a lazy summer day with no excitement, much like the day that the story begins on, for while reading Half Magic, you are with Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha on their adventures and you feel the magic that flows through them flowing through you as well. It is a book with a cheery soul and a light in its eye, and will get you laughing as the siblings try to phrase their wishes properly. What is twice of not here? What is twice of half a talking cat, in the case of the magicked Carrie?

Now, obviously, I have never had an experience with magic, but Half Magic describes the daydreaming we all do when we are bored, when we imagine knights jousting in our yard, or sorcerers throwing spells from their hands. Half Magic brings these dreams to life in a joyous, light-hearted tale, and the story doesn’t really end, either. In fact, the last chapter is called, “How It Began Again.” I’ll leave it up to you to figure out what that means.

Remember this, though. Anything can happen on a dull summer day. For all you know, magic is just around the corner, waiting for you to find it.

Half Magic by Edward Eager. Houghton Mifflin Harcout Books, 1954. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!

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