If you are a fan of fine children’s literature, Edward Eager is an author you should add to your list. Eager was a British playwright who began to write his own children’s stories when he couldn’t find anything suitable to read to his son. Just as author C. S. Lewis credits George McDonald for influencing every one of his stories, Eager gives author Edith Nesbit the credit for igniting his own story-telling imagination. His books are a lovely combination of realistic children and magical adventures.
I enjoyed reading Half Magic a few years ago, but its sequel, Magic by the Lake, is easily twice as funny. Jane, Mark, Katherine and Martha are siblings who are staying in a lakeside cottage for the summer. They meet a magic turtle, discover that the lake is enchanted, and have a wonderful summer of adventures.
The excellent writing, wry humor and constant nod to other children’s books make this story a booklover’s delight.
Water babies gamboled in the shallows. A sea serpent rose from the depths. Some rather insipid-looking fairies flew over. A rat and a mole and toad paddled along near the willowy shore, simply messing about in a boat. On the other side of the same island, a solitary man stared at a footprint in the sand. A hand appeared in the middle of the lake holding a sword. Davy Jones came out of his locker.
The two younger children shut their eyes.
“Make it stop,” said Martha.
“Now I know what too much of a good thing means,” said Katharine.
“Maybe it could be sort of simplified,” said Mark. And he turned to appeal to the turtle.
They all looked at the lake again. A walrus and a carpenter danced with some oysters on a nearby shore.
“It’s too much,” said Katharine. “I think it needs alterations.” (p. 18)
Altering the magic gets them into all sorts of trouble and makes this an excellent read-aloud for younger children (or plain guilty pleasure for Mom or Dad).