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Half Magic Paperback – March 31, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 242 customer reviews
Book 1 of 7 in the Magic Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Edward Eager has been delighting young readers for more than 40 years with stories that mix magic and reality. Half Magic, the most popular of his tales about four children who encounter magical coins, time-travel herb gardens, and other unlikely devices, is a warm, funny, original adventure. The "Half Magic" of the title refers to a coin that the children find. Through a comical series of coincidences, they discover that the coin is magic. Well, it's not totally magic--it's only (you guessed it) half magic. That means there's a certain logic to the wishes one must make to generate a desired outcome. Imagine the results emerging from inaccurate efforts: "half" invisible, "half" rescued, "half" everything!

Half Magic is never too cute, and with just enough emotion to complement the magic, this book is sure to hold a special place in any child's library. (The publisher suggests the book for kids ages 9-12, but it's fun enough to read aloud to those slightly younger and clever enough for kids who are a bit older.) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Half Magic is a funny, charming, timeless book, as much a pleasure to read to a child now as it was forty years ago. Those who had it read to them then may even have an obligation to pass on the pleasure.”—The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Series: Tales of Magic (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Sandpiper; 1 edition (March 31, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152020683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152020682
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I first read Half Magic when I was seven, courtesy of the El Segundo Public Library, and twenty years later, I still love it. My abiding love of children's literature probably began right here, in a book that has everything - plot, humor, intelligence, and fabulous characters.
Half Magic obeys the rules of great magic books that are carefully delineated by the main characters in the first chapter. (See what I mean about intelligence and wit?) The magic has its own rules, which they must discover. They thwart the magic. Then the magic thwarts them. If it's a formula, it's one Edward Eager developed, and it works - you don't want to stop reading, from King Arthur's court to a highly magical ending. (And I have no intention of telling you where that is.)
Even though the plot is exceptional, it's the characters that truly make the book. The four children are clearly *people* - it's easy to imagine meeting them on the street or in a park - and not merely characters on a page. And even though the book is set in the 1930s, and was written in the 1950s, the kids still resonate. We all know, or were, Martha - "Martha was the youngest, and very difficult." Likewise with Jane and Katherine. "Katherine *would* keep boasting about what a comfort she was, and how docile, until Jane declared she would utter a piercing shriek and fall over dead if she heard another word about it."
This first book in Eager's loosely-intertwined series is a masterpiece of children's literature. Children and adults alike will love Half Magic. Start here - and remember, to read one is to want them all.
(NB: the quotes used here came from my memory - I checked them before I submitted the review, of course - and normally my memory is not the best. That should tell you something about the strength of this book, or at least the impression it made on me.)
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By A Customer on May 26, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Like all the other reviewers, I too read this book when I was 9 or 10 and then worked my way through the other 6 titles. I loved them all so very much that I read them again and again. Before I had reached my teens, they were like old and very dear friends. However, here in the UK, they've been out of print for quite some time and it looked as if my hope of owning my own set was never to be. As a librarian, I've frequently come across very old and battered copies of Half Magic in several Children's Libraries but about 10 years ago, I had the best piece of luck. I was working in a (nameless) library in Central London and came across a complete set in a store room as part of an out-of-print collection. I avidly fell upon them all and renewed old aquaintances with the children I'd thought of as my friends. When that collection was broken up for sale/pulping, I was given the 7 Edward Eager books for my own. Since then, I've read them to my own children. They are more than stories, they are part of me. Edward Eager had a huge gift; in a few words, he could paint a detailed picture with warmth, humour and clarity. His children are real and believable. The situations are zany and so funny and the magic that underpins everything is the same magic that lives in the readers' hearts and minds for ever. What a nice man he must have been. I wish I'd known him.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So this is what Dr. Eager did in his spare time. If Half Magic is indicative of his bedside manner, he must have been a very good doctor indeed. For this is one of those sleepy time read-in-bed books like the Chronicles of Narnia, that gently draw you into their fantastic world at that drowsy time when good things seem so much more possible and you're about to drift off into the Land of Nod.
Half Magic is written in that wonderful, light, easy 'fifties style that gets so easily overlooked in favor of more extreme excitements. Later discovered, though, one simply wonders how writing could have ever been this good. A wonderfully understated example is shown in the genial attitude of the good samaritan stranger who helps out the young adventurers. He's first respectful of their mother,then falls more and more in love as the book goes on. This undercurrent is so subdued and tasteful that it's barely noticeable amid the magical misadventures until the conclusion of the book.
The Leave it to Beaver approach to problem solving is also delighfully refreshing--the spells only half work; unlike the obvious fantasy formulae in countless later books and movies, the magic leaves plenty of room for human ingenuity and skill,as well as the need to make decisions. Eager's other great fantasy, Knight's Castle, also continues in this vein, the hyjinks and hilarity deriving from,and always affirming,the human.
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Format: Paperback
Half Magic may have been my favorite book as a kid -- I knew then what I loved about it, but it was only when I reread it as an adult that I realized just how much the book had given to me. Half Magic is a book of fantasy about real kids who play and argue and fight. They're good solid kids who know the difference between right and wrong. Edward Eager's style is matter-of-fact, succinct and hilarious. All of this I loved as a kid (and still do). But there's something else at work in Half Magic, aside from a terrific plot about a magic coin that grants half of your wishes, in its own inimitable way. The children in Half Magic have no father, and one of the strands of the plot has to do with a "rather small gentleman" who befriends the children and may wind up becoming their stepfather. Jane, the oldest child, will have nothing of it, telling her siblings "Everything's just spoiled, that's all!". A few paragraphs later, Eager gently explains: "She felt awful inside, the wy you always do when you've been perfectly hateful to those you love best, and she didn't even know why she had done it. She didn't know why the mere thought of Mr. Smith upset her so -- or if she did kow the reason, she didn't want to admit it, even to herself. But the thing was that Jane was the only one of the four children who really remembered their father." As it happens, I was the youngest child in a family where the father died at a young age. I think that when I first read Half Magic, I was simply pleased to have something in common with the heroes of the book. It was when I read the book to my own kids that I realized how simply, and how truly, Eager captured the emotions of children who need to come to terms with loss. And this in the framework of a rollicking, funny book.
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