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Half Magic

(Tales of Magic #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  36,526 ratings  ·  1,648 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. ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 31st 1999 by Harcourt Odyssey (first published 1954)
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Popular Answered Questions
George What makes you think that happens? I mean, they try, but don't succeed--otherwise there wouldn't be a story, right?…moreWhat makes you think that happens? I mean, they try, but don't succeed--otherwise there wouldn't be a story, right?(less)
Alena The genre is definitely fantasy.

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  36,526 ratings  ·  1,648 reviews

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Start your review of Half Magic (Tales of Magic, #1)
I believe this book genuinely is magic, for two reasons:
1) It came into my life as if propelled by the power of the universe itself.
2) It is a children's book from the 1950s (!!!) that condemns colonialism (!!!!!) and has cool, powerful female characters.

It's good stuff.

Unfortunately, because I never read it as a kid, I didn't have any of that nostalgia coursing through my veins, so I was just a 23 year old reading a children's book for the first time. And even when the children's content is goo
Jan 20, 2013 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
Nov 20, 2007 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
Aug 25, 2010 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
Jesse Doogan
Mar 06, 2011 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
Meg Cabot
Jul 12, 2014 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. ...more
Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
If I could pick one book to hand to any random child, it might be this one. WHAT a book.
Also as the youngest of four, the character intro "Martha was the youngest, and very difficult" speaks to me deeply.
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
Four children―Jane, Katherine, Mark, and Martha―come upon a magic charm. Only it makes just half of what you wish true. The children realise this soon enough and word their wishes so that they can get all of what they want, and start off on a set of exciting adventures which take them to different places and times. But while their wishes do come true, they find that the outcome may not be quite what they were looking for, and they are not always in the right frame of mind to make a carefully wor ...more
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
Mar 27, 2009 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
Mar 07, 2007 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.
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
May 13, 2007 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.
Sep 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hafsa Sabira
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
The novel is about four siblings finding a magic coin which can grant their wishes,but only half of it. However,having a magic in life isn't that easy and the wishes must be carefully uttered,otherwise the summer adventures will turn into more than just adventures. Gradually the siblings have to learn to control the magic in their lives while the magic will transform them too.

The book has this "The Little Peppers" and "The Little Women" vibe in the narrative. Not a fan of such writing style but
Kris Sellgren
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I loved this growing up. A magic token that gives you half of what you wish for. Four children find all the ways this can go wrong.
Friend of Pixie
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
Jackie "the Librarian"
Aug 18, 2007 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.
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Over the weekend, I read a lovely feature in Rain Taxi on Edward Eager's Magic series, which inspired me to start rereading them in ebook from my local library system. I'm finding ebook to be an excellent format for these, because it means I'll actually look up definitions - and Eager wasn't afraid of flexing his vocabulary. ...more
Bart Everson
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kiddie, aloud
One of those rare children's books that not only lives up to one's memories from childhood, but actually improves with age. There are a lot of literary allusions that I'm sure I didn't get as a child, and the period details are more intriguing than ever.

This book was written in the 1950s but set in the 1920s, in Toledo, Ohio. Thus, the time depicted is nearly a century ago, in the days of streetcars, sleeping porches, silent movies and Flinch (a card game). It's suffused with a subtle nostalgia
Sep 20, 2015 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
Feb 26, 2008 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.
Jul 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, younger

If you've ever had a moral pointed at you, you will know that it is not a completely pleasant feeling.
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Love it. When I grow up, I want to write as well as Mr. Eager.
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read an interview with Alice Hoffman, who mentioned that this author and this series were favorites of hers as a child. She also wrote an introduction to the edition that I was reading. It was a fun story and I think I would have liked it when I was a kid.
Apr 17, 2008 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!
Jul 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
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! ...more
Oct 11, 2007 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
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
Nov 09, 2012 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
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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

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

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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.” 28 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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