Unlike the other books in this series, this one is written in first person, by all of the characters individually, as they all have their own chapter.
“Another rule is not to put in things that don’t mean anything and are just there to make it more exciting. Like saying, “There I stood, my heart beating.” Naturally your heart would be beating. Otherwise you wouldn’t be standing there; you’d be lying down dead.”
This book follows James, Lydia, Laura, Gordy and Deborah who were also in a book entitled Magic or Not? which is the one book in the series I never owned. It follows on from Magic or Not? though, as the children find a magic wishing well.
“Magic doesn’t seem at all like the kind that would be true, when you come to think of it. Still, neither do airplanes and electric lights and outer space.”
The magic in this book seems to be of a more ordinary variety. There are no quests to olden times, instead the wishes coming true could be seen as mere coincidence, but they would be quite big coincidences.
Through the wishes the children help a depressed young girl and reform the school bully.
While the changing of the viewpoint did annoy me slightly, though it didn’t as a child, it is done well. Each chapter has a distinctly different voice as it is written by different people, you don’t confuse them easily.
The main adventure of the book comes from a new family who want to move into town. There are a number of people who want to stop them. It is never explained why they do not want the family moving in, but reading it now, it seems kind of obvious. Although, it is left to the reader to decide why some people do not want the family moving in, the most likely reason seems to be because the family is black, but because this is never explained outright in the book, a younger reader might not make the connection. The book handles it well. The main characters are not against the family moving in, which is of course important, because when the book was written in 1960, racism was a big problem, and having the children on the side of the new family makes clear the moral of this book, which is don’t be upset with who you are.
“The books tell all about knights and musketeers rescuing beautiful damsels. But they never put in what Lancelot said to Elaine on the ride home.”
The last adventure seems as if it is a ‘proper’ adventure, with a girl locked in a tower by an ogre, however it soon turns out she was in fact grounded by her father and the children help her escape to meet her boyfriend at the cinema, but a gas leak at the cinema means she then actually does need rescuing making it a good updated damsel in distress adventure.
When I was younger, this was one of my favourite Edward Eager books, so I was surprised how much of it I had forgotten. Having read them all again I think I now prefer the The Time Garden but as this book is the only one with a clear moral at the end, it seems like a fitting end to the Edward Eager series.