Edward Eager’s Magic by the Lake (1957)
Illus. N.M. Bodecker
Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999*

It seems completely reasonable that magic is everywhere. At least, if you’re Jane.

“If I could find a magic charm right on Maplewood Avenue, it stands to reason there must be lots of it lying around still, just waiting for the right person to come along.”

Of course reason has nothing to do with magic.

(I know that, as an adult re-reading this series. But as a child reader, I wasn’t half as dull.)

Nonetheless, the lake by which the children are vacationing (three weeks after the events of Half Magic) has everything to do with magic.

“Just making one wish after another, hardly a minute to rest up between times, wearing a poor lake out! A lakeful of magic doesn’t last forever, you know!”

Pirates. Mermaids. Shape-shifting. Talking animals. Polar exploration. Tropical islands.


“That’s the way magic is. It’s like some people. It never does what you want it to exactly, but it’s never been really mean before. Somehow it always works out in the end.”

And that’s how I’ve found this second volume in Edward Eager’s series; it’s not one that I had read before and there’s a mean streak in there.

Sure, maybe you can blame the thieving Arabs on the fact that apparently the magic was having them act out a scene from the Arabian Nights. (As if borrowed/copied racism is less of an issue.) But there’s no excuse for the cannibalistic natives on the island.

I know, I know. I’m reading from another time.

But I’m re-reading in my time.

And my reading time is limited.

*Image shown is the cover for the 1957 edition.