Happy last full week of June! I knew June would go fast with all the fun events we’ve had in our family lately. But wow, here it is! We’re ready to welcome July and new baby!
Today I am thrilled to be sharing a review of one of my childhood favorites: Half Magic by Edward Eager. This fits will with the prompt that I chose for this week’s Top 10 Tuesday anniversary post about childhood favorites. Whenever I think about books that I loved as a kid, this is top of the list. It was a dream come true to read this one aloud to my kids.
- I’m happy to say that this childhood favorite lived up to my lofty expectations when reading aloud to my kids!
- Fun fact: did you know this book is the first in a series of books about magic written by Eager? I thought there were only two books growing up as those were the only two we had. But no, there are several more. I can’t want to experience more of these stories with my kids!
According to Goodreads, “Beloved by children (and the parents lucky enough to share it with them) since it was first published in 1954, Half Magic is the uproarious tale of four siblings who discover a charm that grants exactly half of whatever they wish for–with results that are twice as predictable (and hilarious) as you might expect.
Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha manage to cope with an unexpected trip to the Sahara and nearly a disastrous trip to the time of King Arthur. But can these plucky and resourceful children deal with the changes magic is bringing to their tight-knit family?
Set in Ohio in the late 1920s, yet fresh and funny now as the day it was written. Half Magic weaves its spell anew in this full cast recording that will entrance newcomers as well as fans who have loved this wonderful book for decades.”
I’ve decided to focus this review on my experience reading this book aloud to my kids. I think this is a great read aloud because of the fun adventures of the sibling protagonists and the way they interact with each other. This would also be a great novel for younger chapter book readers to read to themselves. The stories are easy to follow, and I think their vocabulary will expand as well. I hope you enjoy this book whether reading aloud, to yourself, or recommending it to a young reader.
Why Half Magic is a great read aloud:
- It has such a clever story! The four siblings find a magic coin that grants wishes by halves. Nothing goes as planned. I enjoy all the accidental wishes. I loved their medieval adventure at King Arthur’s court, their journey in the Sahara desert, Martha being half there, Jane half belonging in another family, and perhaps most of all how they try to help their mother believe in magic. And it’s so fun to see how Jane, Mark, Katherine, and Martha manage to resolve each surprising adventure!
- The magic is clever and easy to connect with. I know magic is not for everyone. But I love it because it can teach us to believe in things that we can’t see and hope for adventure and excitement beyond our normal lives. Perhaps we won’t all find a magic coin that grants wishes. But we can see magic in smaller ways just in everyday life. I love that magic is central to this story and that it happens in our world. It makes magic seem so real–something we could encounter around any corner. I love the description of how true magic smells, feels, and looks at the end of this book. It makes me believe in magic all over again and encourage my kids to believe in magic too.
- Great family dynamic. I love the relationships between these siblings–friends and yet enemies. They argue and they make up. They are always there for each other. They argue over who gets to make the next wish and how to fix the problems they find themselves in. And ultimately, they are each other’s biggest support and confidants. Also loved how their mother is able to find love again (and Mr Smith is a favorite character with his views on magic and wisdom on people. Aso he’s just a genuinely good person, runs a bookstore, and really loves their mother and the kids).
- Fun pictures in each chapter showing their adventures. Any chapter book with pictures in it is a winner at our house lately.
Things to keep in mind for a read aloud:
- The chapters are longer (there are only about 8 total) so I tried to find a place each time we read that I could stop inside each chapter. That worked fine overall. But I prefer having shorter chapters instead.
- The language is rather advanced for my little kids. This isn’t a bad thing (great to build vocabulary) But it did make our reading a bit slower as sometimes I explained what words meant or sometimes I changed the wording slightly so they would understand.
- This book was first published in the 1950’s giving it a different backdrop than our modern world. So some of the action or details are a bit outdated but I think that is a good thing for our modern young audience to see what summer was like for children years ago. Kids still played games, got bored, and had to be home for lunch. Perhaps young readers today can see that they aren’t so different from the kids of generations past.
This novel is still one of my favorites! I am so glad my kids enjoyed it as well. I would love to read some others in the series to my kids in future!
What are some of your childhood favorites?
Do you enjoy reread those favorites years later?