Magic by the Lake
by Edward Eager
The four children from Half-Magic
have a new stepfather now, and together with him and their mother and their cat named Carrie, they go to spend their summer vacation on a lake in Northeastern Indiana. There Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha meet a magic, talking turtle who guides them on a lakeful of magical adventures.
Of course, when you ask for "magic by the lake," you might not get what you think. As the turtle chides them:
"But of course you couldn't be sensible, could you, and order magic by the pound, for instance, or by the day? Or by threes, the good old-fashioned way? Or even by halves, the way you did before?... But no, not you. You had to be greedy and order magic by the lake, and of course now you've got a whole lakeful of it, and as for how you're going to manage it, I for one wash my hands of the whole question!"
Half of the adventure is dealing with this touchy turtle, and sending him to intercede for them with the magic of the lake. The other half is controlling their own foolishness and dealing with the unexpected results of what they wish for... such as encounters with mermaids, pirates, cannibals, and children from the future; rocs and thieves out of the Arabian Nights
; a penguin in its natural habitat, and the pleasures of sweet sixteen. They search for buried treasure. They escape virtually certain death. They meet a genie. And they discover the South Pole.
But again, not everything they wish turns out for the best, and they have to be careful not to upset the magic or use it up too fast. Especially when they are lost in the woods, or visiting a haunted house, or when little Martha breaks the rules and suffers the consequences. And on top of everything, they want to help kind Mr. Smith, their stepfather, stay in business with his bookshop in Toledo. With a lakeful of magic, how can they go wrong?-- Ah! But who can predict what will happen with all that magic?
This book has some of the funniest puns and gags in all of Eager's books, and its nostalgic look back on the 1920's adds to its charm (whereas most of his books are set in his present-day 1950's). The children are true characters, and even the turtle has a delightful personality. Sparkling with realistic detail combined with outrageous fantasy, and filled with the very sort of adventures that might happen if children's pretend-magic became real, this book is a treasure that I hope you will dig up!
Recommended Age: 8+
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