Rereading MAGIC BY THE LAKE by Edward Eager

Cover illustration by N.M. Bodecker

One of the best things about this series of seven books by Edward Eager, now known as the Tales of Magic, is that we get to revisit some of the children in previous books. This one returns to the family from Half Magic, and again takes place in the 1920s, not long after that book. Jane, Mark, Katharine and Martha are having a real vacation with their mother and new stepfather Mr. Smith. They’ll be staying in a cottage by a lake in the country, while Mr. Smith drives back to their home town on weekdays to continue running his bookshop. The children haven’t had a vacation like this before, and they’re looking forward to it, but the magical adventures they had earlier in the summer after Katharine found a magic coin that granted half wishes, are on their mind. The lake turns out to be a wonderful place, and it seems to the children as if it too could have magic in it. While boating on the lake, they catch a large turtle, who is not impressed with them, and as they watch it walk around inside the boat, Jane wishes they had a whole lake full of magic to make their summer even more exciting. “Now you’ve done it,” says the turtle.

Once again they are in the midst of magic adventures with rules the children must quickly understand before they are out of their depth. The turtle is held captive until he agrees to help, and he does, setting up a framework, like only once every three days for an adventure, and adults can’t see any of the magic, but of course magic is willful and wild, as well as scheming, and their plans still often go astray. The adventures involve mermaids, pirates, buried treasure, hostile natives, desert islands, and more, and when they are in the worst possible trouble, they meet some other children on a magical adventure of their own that readers of this series will recognize. Will these other children help keep our four from being cooked alive?

Another great, funny, wonderful book, they’re all great, and this one is no exception. Recommended.

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