Magic or Not?
by Edward Eager
In yet another story that brings the magic of E. Nesbit
into mid-twentieth-century America, Eager adds an additional twist: you're never sure whether the wishing well made it happen, or whether there was a more natural explanation for the things that happened.
The things that happened, happened to James and Laura-- twins who have just moved to a very old red house in the Connecticut countryside with a supposedly magical wishing well in its front yard. They also happen to an outgoing neighbor boy named Kip and a strange, horsey, strong-willed girl named Lydia, who lives in the other direction. Some of the things happen to James and Laura's baby sister Deborah, too, and some of them to a rather annoying kid named Gordy whose mother is the great and terrible President of the Garden Club.
And between these four, or five, or six children (depending), the question of whether their adventures are "magic or not" comes up over and over, until their climactic escapade leaves them caught between two impossible alternatives: either the magic was real, or "It'd have to have been the biggest conspiracy since Aaron Burr!"
Naturally, nothing happens that is quite as self-evidently magical as the adventures in Half Magic or Knight's Castle, etc. But the children manage to have an interesting summer and to do all kinds of good for others, in their own stumbling way. They help a lady "from another world" keep her ancestral home. They restore a "lost heir" to the bosom of his family. They overcome a "mob-led queen" and they lay a restless ghost. Or do they?
Whether other forces are at work behind the children's magical discoveries... or whether they made their own magic happen somehow... or whether it is, indeed, the wishing well... the children have lots of fun, and you will have fun with them. And as they constantly turn over the question of "magic or not" in their minds, they keep alive for themselves-- and for us-- a sense of the possibility of a kind of magic in the modern world, even if it is the kind that people make for themselves.
Meanwhile, expect some good puns, the obligatory reference to the author's own Half Magic (he had good reason to be proud), and references to other books that you might like to read, before you're too old to believe in magic...
What am I saying? You're never too old!
Recommended Age: 8+
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