Half Magic – Vintage Kidlit Summer Week #3

by | Jun 16, 2023 | Books, Reading, Vintage Kidlit Summer | 9 comments

My friend Faith Elizabeth Hough (who blogs HERE) and I decided to create a fun reading challenge called Vintage Kidlit Summer. If you missed any of the details on how this challenge works, just go here and you can catch up! Basically, we’re doing 12 categories over 12 weeks, and each week has its own theme. All you have to do is choose a vintage/classic book that fits that week’s theme, read it, and share about it! You can write about it on your blog, or you can post your thoughts on Instagram (or Twitter) as well, by using the hashtag #vintagekidlitsummer. And if you’re in need of recommendations for each week’s theme, check out this blog post!

Our third week’s theme was Magical Adventures, and for this theme I chose to read Half Magic by Edward Eager. First published in 1954, this is the first book in the Tales of Magic series that have been a joy to several generations of readers.

I don’t typically read an entire book in one day—in fact, I’d say that’s extraordinarily rare for me, unless it’s something like a picture book—but when I first read Half Magic, that’s exactly what I did. And I also don’t typically read fantasy—it’s not my favorite genre and it’s hard for me to find books I love that also contain magical elements. But I wouldn’t really categorize Half Magic (or any of the Edward Eager books) as fantasy … they’re more just stories of ordinary children who happen to find some magical object.

Such is the case in Half Magic, when four siblings find an ancient coin that grants their wishes by halves. It takes them a while to discover the coin’s secret, but when they do—well, then the fun can begin!

Of course, in Eager’s stories, the kids never quite get what they bargain for when they’re attempting their extravagant, wild, and sometimes frivolous wishes. But in the end, they always try to do the right thing and use the magic to help someone. I wish I could tell you how this happens in Half Magic, but that would be giving spoilers!

One of my favorite chapters in Half Magic is when one of the children—Jane—loses her temper and wishes that she belonged to another family. The wish is granted, but growing up as someone else isn’t what Jane had hoped it would be. I also love the scene when the children’s mother makes a wish on the coin, not realizing that it’s magical.

The reason why I tried these books in the first place is because my copy of The Penderwicks said that it was perfect for fans of Noel Streatfeild, Elizabeth Enright, and Edward Eager. Having read (and loved!) books by the first two of those authors, I knew I had to try Edward Eager. I vividly remember my delight when I opened the book and realized that it was set in the 1920s. A historical book with gentle, humorous magic! What a delight!

And then of course, I had to go read Magic by the Lake when I was finished re-reading Half Magic. I couldn’t resist!

What did you read for the Vintage Kidlit Summer this week? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Julie Aamoth

    I love Half Magic and the other Edward Eager books! Thyme Garden might be my second favorite. To me, Eager’s books seem most similar to Nesbit’s, and I enjoy those as well.

    I have just been rereading “The Land of Oz,” following an urge I had to reread the whole series. I have always liked “Land” but it’s not one of my absolute favorites and I’d forgotten parts of the story. The humor in this book is particularly delightful, with puns and pranks and lampooning of social trends and some general silliness. I was always a bit sorry that Dorothy wasn’t in this book, but there are old favorite characters and new ones to meet. Baum does a particularly nice job of setting the magical environment early on, and the developments in this book are important for understanding the later books in the series. While I still think the next book in the series, “Ozma of Oz,” is the best of all, I wouldn’t skip reading “Land of Oz.”

    • Anna Rose Johnson

      Yes, Eager’s books have a lot in common with Nesbit (and that was very much on purpose)! I wonder if he was inspired by the Oz books too?

      • Julie Aamoth

        Thanks for making that connection – just looked on wikipedia and the first thing it says is that he was a childhood fan of the Oz books!

  2. Marion

    I returned to my favorite Disney story Cinderella. Cinderella goes to the ball when six pumpkins turn into six horses and six mice become six coachmen this is mad magic..

  3. Marilyn

    This Disney story is one of my favorites. Snow White has a magical mirror that lets the Queen see Snow White. She does not like it when the mirror answers her question of who is the fairest in the land. Snow White eats a poisoned apple courtesy of the Queen. After she is dead a prince comes along and with one kiss Snow White comes alive. The magic in this story had a happy ending.

  4. Faith Elizabeth Hough

    I first discovered Half Magic as an adult as well—and it was one of the rare books I read in one sitting! I picked it up off my mother-in-law’s [well-stocked] shelf when I was pregnant with my first daughter, and just speed read the whole thing. I recall dinner was brought to me—I am lucky to be part of an understanding family of readers. 😉

  5. Julie Aamoth

    I hope they brought you twice as much dinner as you asked for :-).


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