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Half Magic (Tales of Magic #1)

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3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  26,052 Ratings  ·  1,105 Reviews
Four children wish on a Half Magic coin that gets their mother Alison half-way home, rescued by Mr Smith. Mark's wish zaps them to a desert without island, where half-talking cat Carrie gabbles to a camel. Romantic Katherine battles Launcelot. Eldest Jane rejects siblings for another family. Stubborn youngest, Martha, causes a riot downtown.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 31st 1999 by Harcourt Odyssey (first published 1954)
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Xshawk
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Christine Riccio
Feb 12, 2016 Christine Riccio rated it it was amazing
childhood fav <3
Manny
Sep 24, 2014 Manny rated it really liked it
Recommended to Manny by: Judith
"It seems a shame," said Jane, "that no one's going to know about our adventures. They would make such a good book. If only we could write them down!"

"But how would we do that?" asked Mark. "We're just kids. Oh. Wait. You don't mean..."

"I certainly do!" said Jane. "We just have to wish for it, and the Charm will take care of the rest. But we need to wish very carefully. Now, what kind of book do we want it to be?"

"I want it to be like one of E. Nesbit's books!" said Katherine. "Though... if the
...more
Melody
Sep 08, 2012 Melody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Would you believe I grew up in Toledo, Ohio and never noticed while reading and re-reading this that it was set in my hometown? It's true. I don't know if I just figured ALL books were set there, and that's why the street names were so familiar or if I was just extraordinarily clueless. I figured it out finally when I was reading this to my son. It seems worth talking about in view of how worried people sometimes get about kids getting the wrong message from books- sometimes kids don't even noti ...more
Jesse
Mar 06, 2011 Jesse rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childhood
Summertime belongs to childhood. The grown-up version, with BBQs and yard work, can’t compare to the long, long days spent exploring and digging in the dirt.

Now, I’m a winter girl, through and through, but when the lightning bugs start to rise up out of the grass, I start to ache for the summers from when I was little. Unfortunately, all the kids who used to comeoutandplay have moved on, and I’ve been trying to eat less dirt, so I was at a loss for a way to revisit my summers.

Then I remembered E
...more
Connie
Aug 25, 2010 Connie rated it liked it
Mostly, I love this book. I liked it as a kid (except for that caveat I'll get to in a minute). I like it now, as a grown-up. The story is interesting and engaging. The trouble the kids get themselves into is believable (well, for a fantasy novel...!), and I like their solutions. The problem of having to double all your wishes is interesting to me. The only thing is...

The only thing is that a whole chapter is taken up with a trip to a desert, where the children run across an evil, wicked, terrib
...more
colleen
Mar 07, 2007 colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: youth
oh, one of my all time favorites. i LOVE when they wish the cat could talk and since it is half-magic, the cat's every other word is "meow."

i bought this (and the rest of the series) for my niece for christmas a couple of years ago, and i can't wait until my daughters are old enough to read it.
Meg Cabot
Jul 12, 2014 Meg Cabot rated it it was amazing
Edward Eager's Half Magic was 1 of my favorite comfort books as a kid and I can still quote from it.
Spencer
Mar 27, 2009 Spencer rated it really liked it
I read the first 2 chapters a day or two ago and was intrigued. Today I picked it up again and read the third chapter. It had me laughing out loud. So, I finished it today.

This is, apparently, a children's book. Back in the day, children were considerably more well-read. They would have had to be, otherwise they would miss the multitude of references to other works of literature. For example there is the part that goes something like this (not quoting verbatim, but it goes something generally li
...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
Nov 23, 2011 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy fans
Five children find a silver medallion, and discover that it grants wishes - but only half-way! Hilarity ensues. My favorite part is when they idly wish the cat could talk. And then, it sort of CAN talk, in kitty fashion. Hee!
This is my favorite book by Eager, with lots of wit and humor. A classic of children's literature, but not in a stuffy way.
sj
Originally posted here as part of the 30 Day Book Challenge.

This one is easy.

The Book That Made Me Fall In Love With Reading

I don't even know what to say about this book. If you haven't read it, you should. If you have younger children, read it to them.

Half Magic was written in the 50s about a family living in the 20s, so of course it's dated, but it's still as full of charm as ever. As an adult I catch little literary references that I missed when I was young, and that adds to my love of th
...more
Melissa
Feb 26, 2008 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Reading this aloud to Beanie (7 yrs). She adores it, as did her sisters before her. Eager cracks me up: very wry humor and realistic characterizations—in a fantasy where unlikely events are occurring. It's a delicious combination.

Written in the spirit of E. Nesbit's books, this is the tale of four siblings who find a magical charm that grants wishes—sort of. It only grants *half* a wish, which causes all sorts of confusion and misadventure.
Logan
Mar 20, 2012 Logan rated it really liked it
Listened to this on CD on a trip and Logan loved it. This is the first of Eager's magic books. He was a great fan of E. Nesbit and his books pay homage to her. A group of siblings finds a coin that grants wishes, but they realize quickly that they only get half what they wish for. Of course, even when they figure that out, it's still true that that wishes often don't turn out quite the way you planned! Some sexism, as it was written in the 50's about the 20's, but other than that, nice family en ...more
Donald
Oct 11, 2007 Donald rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: The Young Of All Ages
Edward Eager was my very first "favorite" author. I remember reading "Half Magic" and feeling a light turn on in my mind; my imagination was stimulated like never before. This is the first of a series of magical adventures involving two sets of children, who are intertwined biologically and magically (in Eager's later book "The Time Garden," the children of the characters in this book and "Magic By The Lake" would be saved by their own future children). Basically, this is the story of four child ...more
ABC
Nov 12, 2012 ABC rated it really liked it
Shelves: older-kids
This is about four siblings who find a magic charm that can fulfill wishes.

There is a part about an Arab. He is supposed to be a not very nice guy. I felt I had to address this in my review. I did not like the way he was portrayed, yet at the same time we have to remember that this was written in the nineteen-fifties. It is unfortunate that this chapter is part of the book, but oh well.... Other than that I thought it was a cute book.

I did like how this book refers to other famous books, parti
...more
Kari Ramirez
Jan 17, 2016 Kari Ramirez rated it it was amazing
When I was a child I read a book from the library. I sat and read in my room from cover to cover and when I got to the end I distinctly remember feeling as if I had just woken up from a dream. I was so engrossed in the story I felt like I had been with the children on their adventures and I was so sad it was over.

But it wasn't. It was only the beginning. I spent the rest of my life like a drug addict searching for that same great high and it has been the best adventure ever. All thanks to Edward
...more
Steven Bell
Mar 29, 2016 Steven Bell rated it really liked it
This book was a charming riot. Definitely the sort of thing I wish I had read as a child. It's not terribly deep or complex book, though it does dip into existential angst at one point. The characterization is strong and the kids are all likable and believable.

It's not surprising that there are sequels because the central concept is an easy one to continue to find new uses for. I'm definitely left with a feeling that there are far more shenanigans that can be accidentally created by half wishes.
...more
Marianne
Apr 17, 2008 Marianne rated it liked it
Half Magic is a story about some kids who are having a very boring summer. That changes when they find a strange coin that gives you wishes you ask for. But soon they discover it gives them half only half what they ask for. So they have to ask for two x what they want. A great book to read any day!
Lisa Vegan
May 13, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: kids 7 & up, fantasy & kids' lit fans
Loved this book in elementary school. This is my favorite book in the series and the one I remember best also. I love the “half magic” concept. Charming adventure story. Like the kids. Love the magic, especially the way it works in this book. Really imaginative.
Jessica
Feb 17, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidlit, boy-s-books
A delightful old-fashioned adventure. Reminded me of an E. Nesbit book! Both the feel of family drama as well as magic, I'm shocked that I haven't read Edward Eager before now. As a kid I would have been all over this book! As an adult I'm excited to read more!
Jesse Bornemann
Apr 22, 2012 Jesse Bornemann rated it really liked it
Anytime I visit a bookstore, I spend a good 15 minutes browsing the children's section. More often than not, I succumb to nostalgia (and a hot wallet) and buy a title I remember fondly. On reckless days, I wind up carrying away something like Baby-sitters on Board!: Super Special #1. (I can't say I'm particularly proud of those days, but sometimes a girl just needs a fix.) Then, other afternoons, I take my time and select a classic I've almost forgotten. I never have a great recollection of thes ...more
Cruth
Author: Edward Eager
Illustrator: N M Bodecker
First Published: 1954
Introduction: by Jack Gantos, April 2004

I am continually surprised at how engaged my 7yo becomes with older books. Here I am thinking the style and vocabulary, the settings and character expectations will fail to embrace her, and yet these are the books we *both* want just one more chapter.

Sure, there are some fabulous contemporary books we love.

But it is her willingness to breathe the classics which makes sharing them with her a
...more
Blake
Sep 17, 2010 Blake rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Becky
Jun 27, 2013 Becky rated it really liked it
Shelves: readin2013
I enjoyed discovering Edward Eager's Half Magic. I had heard wonderful things about it, and I was not disappointed. Half Magic begins simply: "It began one day in summer about thirty years ago, and it happened to four children. Jane was the oldest and Mark was the only boy, and between them they ran everything. Katherine was the middle girl, of docile disposition and a comfort to her mother...Martha was the youngest, and very difficult." One day, Jane is given what she thinks is a nickel; she ma ...more
Elizabeth
Oct 23, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
I loved this book as a kid, and I'm glad I came across it again now. It's a really *nice* book: there isn't the meanness that happens in some kid stories (okay, I guess I'm still traumatized from our reading of Matilda). I didn't have to explain anything too major or serious to Adriana. The kids are kind to one another and not particularly obnoxious. I was pleased by what came across to me as the benign neglect of parenting in the 1950s--the kids' mother works and there is a housekeeper who is s ...more
Sarah
Nov 08, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it
Basically this is a treacly old-fashioned children's fantasy novel with fairly obnoxious children as the protagonists. Uggh, Martha. But then I read a passage that greatly improved my attitude toward Half Magic. After the children have traveled back to olden times and are trying to rescue Sir Launcelot from some dumb trap, the evil knights who are holding him captive sing this song while enjoying a hearty meal:

"Speak roughly to our Launcelot
And beat him with a brier!
And kick him in the pants a l
...more
The Holy Terror
It is difficult to put my finger on exactly what I didn't love about Half Magic, but I thought this review brought up some really good points. I thought this book was a bit racist and sexist, I couldn't remember which kid was which and the idea for the magic was ill-conceived; if you can just ask for twice of something, what is the reason for halving it? I just didn't see a point.

I think this might be one of those stories we love as a child that ends up not working because we see things differen
...more
Amy
Oct 31, 2015 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: sweet-petites
Feeling nostalgic for those days as a kid when a great book was complete magic! This book, of course, was only half magic. See what I did there? :)
Chris
Jun 08, 2013 Chris rated it it was amazing
Love it. When I grow up, I want to write as well as Mr. Eager.
Mamamaggie
Mar 13, 2009 Mamamaggie rated it really liked it
maggie and I really liked this book. It is the first we have read together that is this length & we are very excited to read more creative fiction like this together. Very much like Edward Eager's writing and plan on starting the next of the series.
maggie (6 yo) liked the pictures and the magic coin. that was her favorite part. in the book possession of the magic coin allows the possessor's wishes to come half-true. it was imaginative but not frightening, even in the section where knights of
...more
Jason
Dec 26, 2015 Jason rated it really liked it
The first time I tried reading this to my 5 and 6 year olds they got bored and wanted to stop. This time my (now) 7 year old and I listened to the audiobook, which features a full cast recording of the unabridged book, and found it delightful--wonderfully intelligent children, humane, a nice image of fantasy in the United States, albeit thin on the plot and not overly inventive in world building. But a pleasant group to spend some time with.
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2015 Reading Chal...: Half Magic by Edward Eager 1 11 Jul 29, 2015 05:51PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Half Magic by Edward Eager 2 13 Feb 04, 2015 01:52PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: Half Magic 1 3 Apr 11, 2012 06:59AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect Publication Year 3 25 Aug 25, 2011 10:27PM  
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131683
Eager was born in and grew up in Toledo, Ohio and attended Harvard University class of 1935. After graduation, he moved to New York City, where he lived for 14 years before moving to Connecticut. He married Jane Eberly in 1938 and they had a son, Fritz.

Eager was a childhood fan of L. Frank Baum's Oz series, and started writing children's books when he could not find stories he wanted to read to h
...more
More about Edward Eager...

Other Books in the Series

Tales of Magic (7 books)
  • Knight's Castle (Tales of Magic, #2)
  • Magic by the Lake (Tales of Magic, #3)
  • The Time Garden (Tales of Magic, #4)
  • Magic or Not? (Tales of Magic, #5)
  • The Well-Wishers (Tales of Magic, #6)
  • Seven-Day Magic (Tales of Magic, #7)

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“Still, even without the country or a lake, the summer was a fine thing, particularly when you were at the beginning of it, looking ahead into it. There would be months of beautifully long, empty days, and each other to play with, and the books from the library.” 20 likes
“In the summer you could take out ten books at a time, instead of three, and keep them a month, instead of two weeks. Of course you could take only four of the fiction books, which were the best, but Jane liked plays and they were nonfiction, and Katharine liked poetry and that was nonfiction, and Martha was still the age for picture books, and they didn’t count as fiction but were often nearly as good. Mark hadn’t found out yet what kind of nonfiction he liked, but he was still trying. Each month he would carry home his ten books and read the four good fiction ones in the first four days, and then read one page each from the other six, and then give up. Next month he would take them back and try again. The nonfiction books he tried were mostly called things like “When I was a Boy in Greece,” or “Happy Days on the Prairie”—things that made them sound like stories, only they weren’t. They made Mark furious. “It’s being made to learn things not on purpose. It’s unfair,” he said. “It’s sly.” Unfairness and slyness the four children hated above all.” 3 likes
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