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Blog: On Health. On Writing. On Life. On Everything.

Half Magic

May 17, 2013

Tags: order, Are You My Mother?, adventure, author, book, book store, child, coin - ancient, comical, coming-of age, community, community of readers, Eager - Edward (1911-1964), favorite books, fractions, Half Magic, Harry Potter, Internet, magic, math, non-reader, reader, sad, teacher, two-day delivery, Where the Wild Things Are, wish making, world literature, Wurzel – Sue

In writing group this week, Sue Wurzel read a touching piece about a book she had read as a child called “Half Magic”. Several group members immediately recognized the title as one of their all-time favorites, too, and gushed and cooed and enthused until I – not having grown up in this country - felt I had missed out on an important piece of world literature. While the others were still evoking the book glowingly, I ordered it online (I know, I know, - I should support my local book store – but I admit that often my impatient enthusiasm gets the upper hand).

The “half” in “Half Magic” pertains to an ancient coin that fulfills your wishes – but always only by half. And wouldn’t you believe it: With half magic, the two-day delivery was cut in half – it never happens! - and the book arrived the very next day!

And by next morning – following in the footsteps of millions of kids before me who must have read it late at night, with hot ears – I had finished reading the book. It is magical, and I want it still to be around for many children generations to come. Thanks to the internet for that!

In “Half Magic” four children have hair-raising adventures owing to the magic coin. On the sly, they also learn about math and fractions. But what sets this book apart: In the very first pages, the author Edward Eager (1911-1964), creates a community of readers around books he loves and has no scruples to advertise. That is as if Harry Potter would admit that “Where the Wild Things Are” or “Are You My Mother?” were his favorite books ever.

All we readers know, of course, that this community of readers is deeply divided from non-readers in the world, and the Sue Wurzel’s story this week covers the exact moment when one little girl finds out that her respected teacher belongs to the other side – to the non-readers. A poignant moment of coming-of age, sad and comical at the same time.

“Half Magic” also is a funny book, with funny situations. But the four children, their mother and “a little man” are real people, coming each into the world with their own agenda, and taken seriously. There’s nothing funny about being the always-overlooked middle child, or the boy without a father. We understand the children’s dreams and fears, but we laugh at their clumsy, rash wishes with their unexpected consequences.

If you didn’t read “half Magic” as a child, your education somehow has been thwarted, and you should make good on it straightaway! And if you know a child between six and twelve that thrives in the company of books – this is the book for her! And if you know a non-reader – this might be the present that lures him into our community!
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

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