Edward Eager •
Magic by the Lake •
Edward Eager understands perfectly what kind of magic adventures appeal to children: not the pixies-in-the-bluebells kind, nor yet the kind where people talk “forsoothly,” to borrow his apt word. The best kind of magic is the kind that might happen to any ordinary child on an ordinary day.
And Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha are just such ordinary, if somewhat bookish, kids. They read, daydream, read, argue, and read. So when a magic turtle appears at their lakeside cottage one summer, they know exactly how to make the most of their watery wishes: clashing with pirates on a desert island, exploring the South Pole, flying on a roc’s back.
Eager’s writing is blessedly saccharine free, and the kids are real enough to live on the next block. Martha pesters the band at a dance pavilion to play “Yes, We Have No Bananas.” Mark leans on the turtle to do their bidding by threatening to paint pink rosebuds on its shell. And Katharine dares to contradict a genie who tells them he has been summoned by SAS. “You mean SOS,” she objects. “I do not,” retorts the genie. “ ‘Send A Sorcerer’ is the complete expression. ‘Send O Sorcerer’ would be nonsense!”
By summer’s end the magic has played itself out, but not before Uncle Huge, the stepfather who is “not Murdstone at all” (Half Magic), unearths a buried treasure of his own.