For Christmas, Chad got me some Edward Eager books, including Knight’s Castle and The Time Garden, which I read New Year’s Eve and Day. I loved Half Magic as a kid, and read its sequel, Magic by the Lake, two summers ago. The rest of Eager’s books, though, were the kind of thing I just never got around to buying, so these were a perfect gift.
Knight’s Castle and The Time Garden feature the kids of the Half Magic protagonists; there’s one or two connections between the two sets of books, but you needn’t read them in any particular order. In each of these books, as in the prior two, the kids come upon a form of magic, have adventures, and grow up a bit (though not too pedantically).
(I have another Eager, Seven Day Magic, which doesn’t appear to be connected to any of the rest of his books. Magic or Not? and The Well-Wishers appear to a set, and somewhat unlike his other books, so they may be library material.)
For absolutely no reason that I can think of, I keep wanting to compare these to food. The dessert that always reminds you of childhood? The lemon ice that some restaurants bring you to clear your palate for the main course? Hot sweet roasted cashews from a street vendor, the kind that are only good if they’re eaten hot? They bubble along putting me in a better mood, washing away any bad tastes left by prior books, and are best gulped down at once—they might lend themselves to slow thoughtful reading, I suppose, but I’ve no inclination to try. I like them too much to risk it.
Another fun thing is how book-oriented they are. Knight’s Castle is the most obvious example of this, being basically Ivanhoe fanfic, but the joy of reading pervades the works, as part of the overall theme of imagination and willingness to consider impossible things before breakfast. (I was a little troubled by the oldest protagonist in The Time Garden, thinking that his teen preoccupation with romance was going to turn him into a Susan-out-of-Narnia, but the narrative ends up treating him more kindly than that.) I’ve downloaded three Nesbit books as a result of reading these, for my later reading pleasure (print copies being apparently hard to come by). Should I get Ivanhoe, too? The author and all of the kids in the books are of the opinion that the romance comes out wrong.
Ahem. Anyway. Start with Half Magic, but definitely read these too.