Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager – Retro Review by Debbie Alvarez

Déjà vu?

Debbie, didn’t you review Half Magic by Edward Eager last June?

Why yes, I did. But I now have reread Magic by the Lake with my son and appreciated (again) how strong and creative Edward Eager is as an author. I saw how his books reflected on today’s titles that I’ve enjoyed. How fantastic it was to read a book that didn’t have a cliffhanger, stood on its own, and had wonderful depth to the messages… I’ve missed classic books. Sure, there are a few words here and there during the story that my son and I took pause at, looked up in a dictionary, and discussed. Isn’t that the way with many books? I had Year 6 (5th grade) students recently telling me that they didn’t understand some words that were in a book published in 1985! So here we go… I enjoyed reviewing a book by number recently, shall try it out with this lovely story:

1.     Magic by the Lake is entertaining with strong main characters that can lead you through the story, without being too annoying.

2.     The sibling rivalry, three girls and one boy, in the book isn’t obnoxious, it feels natural and reasonable.

3.     I loved that there was a magic turtle as the guide through this book.

4.     Isn’t it wonderful when you have a fantastically worded book with a strong plot, interesting characters, and INNOCENCE that you can guide a precocious advanced reader to? I tend to lean towards some classics like Edward Eager’s books when I have a colleague or parent ask about an appropriate book for their advanced yet immature reader.

5.      Two sisters who are growing older were able to temporarily experience aging by 10 years through magic. What a lesson it was for all the children.

6.     One message was that you must show respect towards nature. Isn’t that reverberating in hundreds of books? Edward Eager showed no difference in 1957 with his powerful, positive, respectful message that isn’t knocking someone on the head with a 10 lb. hammer in the process.

7.     How many books make it feel normal to go scare pirates, meet native people and almost be roasted for dinner, help someone discover the South Pole all in one book? NO, I didn’t give away too many of the adventures, that just scratches the surface!

8.     I love this book because it is longer. It provides a reader with the practice of reading persistence. It provides a read-aloud situation that makes the listener want to hear more.

9.     Talking about old cars of the 1950’s and being able to compare to how fast we travel today was quite an entertaining feature to accompany the read aloud.

10.  Parents are not ignored or killed in this book. Instead they are integrated throughout without impeding on their children’s curiosity and exploration. Lovely to enjoy after some of the fantasy books I’ve read in past years.

11.  I really want to go and hang out at a lake and let my son roam around for a long while. Talk with some crabs, turtles, mermaids and the like. This book sort-of gave me that opportunity.

12. Finally, I just loved reading this book aloud with my son almost a year after reading Half Magic with him. Great to come back to this family of adventurers. I highly recommend this fantasy series.

Debbie Alvarez is a teacher librarian in Hong Kong. She is constantly on Twitter @stylinlibrarian and blogs over at and is honored to share her passion for reading amongst a wonderful mix of other Nerdy Book Club reading adventurers.