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Books My Mother Gave Me: Seven Day Magic (Edward Eager) Review

Published July 29, 2013 by ElisaChristy

Seven Day Magic is the first of the books not to follow either the Half Magic children or any of their descendants. Instead Half Magic is referenced as a book itself by the characters.

Five children: Barnaby, Abbie, Frederika, Susan and John find a mysterious book in the library, on the way home they realise the book is mainly blank, but the first few paragraphs are about them – the first few paragraphs are repeated to illustrate this point.

The book is due back at the library in seven days, so to fill up the book they must wish for adventures.

“They’re sort of doorways into the real world. We’ll always get in if we can. Only there aren’t many doors left.”

As it is a magic book it seems to take them on book adventures, such as to the land of OZ before it was called OZ – It is never fully explained whether it is OZ or not, the characters think it is, but the reader can decide for themselves.

They are also taken to the town from Half Magic, but arrive just after the end of the book. It does make it believable as it’s a book the reader is likely to have read, but at the same time makes you think Half Magic was only a book rather than real life.

“Maybe it made only book magic because it was a book itself.”

After various book based adventures, the five children decide to try and get it to do some “television magic” and get their father famous as he is a backing singer on a TV show. The book does not like being made to do “television magic” and seems to make the wish go wrong when their father gets fired – but later Abbie meets a writer who wants someone to play the lead part in a play and makes him consider her father – it’s never fully explained whether that was part of the magic, or just luck, but I think I prefer it that way.

Eventually the children have to take it back to the library, when they do the book now has a different title of: Seven Day Magic – whereas before it was blank – it leaves it open ended for the reader to decide whether you have picked up the book of someone else’s adventures or whether you could go to the library and the book would be empty again for someone else to fill up.

I think I enjoyed this book more when I was younger when the plot twist at the end might have been more of a surprise to me. I like the idea that you have picked up the book they made and are reading their true adventures, but also like the idea of me being able to find the book and have it be blank so I could write my own adventures and can’t decide which I would prefer.

This sort of thing never annoyed me as a child.

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Books My Mother Gave Me: Magic by The Lake (Edward Eager) Review

Published July 22, 2013 by ElisaChristy

This book follows Mark, Martha, Katharine and Jane again. But it is in fact the third book in the series. It seems a little confusing at first, why Edward Eager would jump forwards into the future, to introduce Martha’s children in Knight’s Castle, but there is a reason which becomes obvious as you read.

The book is set only three weeks after the events of Half Magic, when the four children go on holiday to a lake house. As it turns out the lake is in fact magic, the children talk about how they wish they had found this magic first instead of the half magic charm they had before. But of course, if they had not, they would not be here now, as they are going on holiday with Mr. Smith from the first book, so it’s continuity really, they had to have the half magic charm to be able to get a whole lake of magic.

“Some Jumblies had appeared, going to sea in a sieve. A walrus and a carpenter danced with some oysters on a nearby shore. In the distance Columbus was discovering America.”

As it turns out, they have not stumbled merely on to a magic lake, but a lake full of magic, which of course, are entirely different things. There is so much magic, the four children think there ought to be rules, so things don’t go as wrong as last time. For example they ask that grown-up’s don’t notice anything magic is going on, so as not to upset their mother as they did before. This also means no grown-ups in the wishes can notice them. They can hear them and half see them, but they never really notice.

“I don’t like things that live where it’s uninhabited!”

The magic is relatively standard as it seems to last until sunset, which is fine normally, but as the children discover not so good when you are in the South Pole and the sun may not set for weeks!

Martha decides she has had enough of rules and wishes for them all to be broken, they then goes to a desert island, where unfortunately cannibals can now see them all too clearly.

It is here that it becomes obvious why there was a separate book in between introducing Roger, Ann and Eliza as they in fact turn up at the desert island and help free the children – who are in fact their parents, it’s slightly complicated like adventureception, but it’s explained well in the book – Roger, Ann and Eliza, I think are on an adventure from The Time Garden, so I’ll have to see if it’s mentioned in that book when I get to it.

The continuity of these books was one reason I was interested in doing these reviews, so I could find out things I missed at the age of six. This is definitely one of them. Magic by The Lake was not one I remembered being read as child, nor did I remember the connection between the four children of this book and Roger, Ann and Eliza from Knight’s Castle or Time Garden, but now I do, it makes the other books in the series seem much more interesting, as I find out how they connect.

Books My Mother Gave Me: Review of Knight’s Castle (Edward Eager)

Published July 15, 2013 by ElisaChristy

DSCN0291As much as I liked the Edward Eager books as a child, if I had to pick my least favourite, this would be it. I’m still not entirely sure why I like it less than his other books, maybe it had something to do with the fact it’s a historic adventure so I felt as if I were being taught things while reading it. The book is a lot better than I remember though, it follows Martha’s children from Half Magic – Roger and Ann, who have to stay with their cousins, Jack and Eliza for the summer.

Roger takes an old toy soldier with him, which comes to life and once every three days they shrink down to the size of the toy soldiers who have now come to life; so the children can help the knights win the battle of Torquilstone from the book Ivanhoe – the game they were playing before the magic happened. A little knowledge of the book Ivanhoe (knowledge which I don’t have) is useful at the beginning of the book, the fact I had no knowledge of the battle may have been what put me off paying attention at the age of six.

Katharine from Half Magic is also in the book, although grown-up, as she is Jack and Eliza’s mother, while I quite like that the other book is mentioned and we get to see how the four children from Half Magic turned out, it did annoy me as a child as it made it seem this was a particularly magic family, they had all the magic adventures, while my family never would.

“After all, every magic adventure he’d ever read had turned out fine for the hero in the end.”

So Roger is at first the only one who takes part in the magic, and while a lot is made of the way they talk  – they say “thou” a lot, they are knights after all – they aren’t talking in old English. It upsets the linguist in me, I didn’t have all those boring lectures at university about the History of English only to be told it’s exactly like ours with more “thou’s”. This only annoys me as an adult though, I did not know any Old English as a child, so was perfectly prepared to believe this was it.

Anyway, if the toy soldiers really did speak in proper Old English, they would be impossible to understand and they are toys after all, I suppose they speak however their owners want them to speak.

The next day, Ann and Eliza decide to build a Magic City around the toy castle as they have been reading The Magic City by E. Nesbit.  They decorate it with whatever they find around the house. This means the knights become modernised. They drive around in cars instead of horses, and everyone seems to have forgotten about the siege of the castle in favour of reading science fiction books instead.

It is very interesting to see how the various things change from when they are under the influence of magic and when they aren’t. Such as the moon, which turns out to be the lightbulb and the Giant’s Lair a dollhouse.

“Once you’re friends with people, it’s surprising how much you can find to do with them, even without magic to light the way.”

The knights seem convinced that the children come from Elfland and are therefore magic themselves, the knights are not aware they are the magic, unless someone shouts the Words of Power. The Words of Power cause the magic to stop and for the toys to all go back to being toys.

While I won’t mention the ending, or how the battle of Torquilstone is finally won, as it is better than I remembered and more likely to make sense if it’s read rather than described, I will say I am glad I read it again. It’s still my least favourite of the Edward Eager books, but probably one of my favourite books, whether it’s for children or not.

DSCN0292

The Magic City

Books my Mother Gave Me: Review of Half Magic (Edward Eager)

Published July 8, 2013 by ElisaChristy

One thing I always used to like about these books as a child, and still do, was that the protagonists hardly ever believed in magic. They knew magic is something that only happens in stories and somehow that made it more believable and therefore more likely to happen to me.

“I Sherlock Holmsed the rest”

Another way Half Magic is made more believable is when the characters talk about other books, such as The Enhanted Castle by E. Nesbit, or Alice in Wonderland and the red queen, it somehow makes it feel less like a story, or at least a story that is taking place in your world rather than some far away place.

The book follows four children Jane, Mark, Katharine and Martha when they find a magic charm on the pavement. At first their wishes all seem to go wrong, as they can’t figure out how it works – as the title would suggest, the charm gives you half of whatever you wish for, so to get your entire wish, you have to wish it doubly so.

“I wish that Carrie the cat may in future say nothing but the word music”

On accidentally wishing that the cat could talk – and then finding out it could now half talk – they attempt to get her to “mew” again, but instead the poor cat ends up saying “sic” instead.

When I was younger, I could never properly understand the two times wishing that the children did, because as they mention; it is maths and I was never any good at maths, so could never understand what I would have to wish for to get exactly what I wanted if the charm ever came to me, something which may have put me off this book when I was first read it.

“People always wish those in stories, and it never works out at all! They either fly to close to the sun and get burned, or end up crushed under all the money!”

The children in Half Magic are very practical, and as they have read many stories about magic wishes – as all children have of course – they know not to wish for money or flying or world peace because wishes have a habit of not happening exactly the way you want.

The children do wish for the general sorts of things you may find in a story about magic. They travel back in time to King Arthur, and on making wishes they learn they have to be careful because their wishes can have repurcussions – such as Katharine wishing she were fighting in a joust, but not wishing she knew how to joust.

“It was like a story she had read somewhere and half forgotten.”

Having a charm that grants you half your wishes may seem easy, but as all the children find out, people wish things they don’t really mean, whether it’s that you could forget about something or wishing you weren’t there as Martha does at the cinema.

The children’s mother also accidentally makes a wish, and finds herself halfway home, but as she is a grown-up she does not understand that what happened was magic and instead thinks she must have fainted, she gets taken home by a kindly gentleman, who we later learn is called Mr. Smith – Jane does not like Mr. Smith at first, because she is the only one of the children who can remember their father and does not want him to be replaced.

Jane wishes she were part of another family, but finds her new family is nowhere near as fun as the old one, so she is rescued and restored to her rightful family by Mr. Smith, then she accepts him.

“Naturally you have to believe in magic – otherwise if it starts happening to you all sanity is despaired of!”

The story ends with a happy ending  though I won’t say what – and the charm stops working for them as it has done what it came to do, they give it to another little girl, but don’t tell her you have to wish for things twice as much, because they think that is something you are supposed to figure out for yourself.

While I am sure this was not my favourite book I was read as a child – probably because of the maths -, it was one of the ones I remembered the most  the image of a cat destined to say “sic” forever never failed to amuse me at six. Now I have read it again for myself, I think despite the fact it’s a children’s story about magic – as so many children’s books are – Edward Eager’s writing makes it very believable and therefore much more likely to happen to you, if you believe in magic.

Books My Mother Gave Me: Introduction

Published July 4, 2013 by ElisaChristy

As a child, my mother would read to me and my brother every night, which may also be true for a lot of other book lovers.

But, my mother hated the classic children’s books that children were expected to be read such as “Wind in The Willows” – a book I read to myself aged six and can kind of see her point. She didn’t want to only read us the sort of books author Lemony Snicket always tells you to read instead of his.

While she did read us our fair share of Alice in Wonderland and endless fairytales, she also read us less well known children’s books such as “The Land of Green Ginger” “The Children of Green Knowe” or poems by Hilaire Belloc and short stories by James Thurber  – whose story “The Night The Bed Fell” I am certain my brother and I made my mother read to us every night for an entire year.

While I can remember being read all these stories quite clearly, I’m not entirely sure I remember the stories themselves, just the titles. What’s more, I often wonder what I would make of the stories if I read them again now, so I intend to do so.

Starting with: “Half Magic” by Edward Eager I will reread some of the many books my mother read to me and review my thoughts on them here, now I am an adult (technically).

Hopefully, provided my procrastination skills are kept in check, the first review should be ready to put up here by Monday.