Magic by the Lake

by Edward Eager

Other authorsN. M. Bodecker (Illustrator)
Paperback, 1989

Call number




Harcourt Childrens Books (J) (1989), 190 pages


On a vacation with their mother and stepfather, Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha find themselves overwhelmed with a lakeful of magical adventures after Mark captures an ancient turtle that seems to have extraordinary powers.

User reviews

LibraryThing member ecugary
This story is a great example of how fantasy doesn't hurt children. After spending time in a magical place and experiencing adventure after adventure several children return to their "normal" lives without noticing any impact of their adventure.

I think this book would be best used by sharing the
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book with students one at a time and letting them read it simply because of the story.
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LibraryThing member antiquary
This is the second of the earlier generation of the interlocking series, following Half Magic. This generation is very early 20th century. The marriage between the children's mother and Hugo which was set up in the first book has now taken place, a Hugo has enough money to take them to the lake for
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the summer, where they become involved with a magical turtle and the magic of the lake itself. The episode I recall best is when the two girls wish themselves to be 16, and promptly are sixteen and dealing with romantic young men, until the shocked younger children undo the spell. Other episodes involves. pirates, mermaids, etc. mostly with a water motif. There are the original, wonderful, whimsical illustrations by N. M. Bodecker, but unfortunately in these reprints another awful, deliberately clumsy cover illustration by Quentin Blake --there seems to have been a notion that pictures for children's books should be drawn as if done by untalented children (there is an equally ugly cover for a reprint of My Friend Mr. Leakey, but fortunately I have the original edition.)
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LibraryThing member Owan
Edward Eager as a wonderful writing style, if you like E. Nesbit you'll like him. His characters are real and so are his scenes. I can't remember much of the story to this (which is why I need to re-read it) but like all of his books, it's well worth your time and effort!
LibraryThing member phoebesmum
A fairly standard Nesbit-inspired (the author acknowledges this) fantasy adventure – a family of children holiday by a magical lake, have very mildly perilous and/or humorous adventures, emerge unscathed and, evidently, none the wiser.
LibraryThing member AshleyMiller
I enjoyed Magic by the Lake much more than I did the previous book in this series. It was great to read about the adventures of Martha, Katherine, Jane, and Mark again! They are characters who are becoming much more developed and have distinct personalities! I love how their personalities and
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relationships to each other seem so real (though I am sure there would be more arguing and fighting among four siblings).

In this book the children spend the last part of their summer (only a few weeks after Half Magic ends) at a lake with their mother and stepfather, Mr. Smith. They go on many exciting adventures including the South Pole, the Arabian desert, and a mysterious island; Jane and Katherine also experience what it is like to be sixteen. It was a fun, entertaining, and exciting read that was suspenseful, but never frightening, which is perfect for young children. I continue to enjoy all the literary references throughout these Tales of Magic books, and there were plenty in this one!

I loved how their silly adventures actually served a purpose as they did in Half Magic. In this story they end up finding a way to save Mr. Smith’s bookstore, and learn many valuable lessons along the way.

The one part of the book that I don’t believe is suitable for younger children is the part when the children are on the island and they encounter natives who are depicted as violent cannibals who speak a funny pseudo language. The natives actually tie them up and put them in pots! They almost get cooked but are saved by some other children who happened to show up on the island at the most perfect time.

Otherwise, this is a great book for any child or parent who has enjoyed the other books in this series. If you love fantasy and magic you will probably enjoy this book.

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LibraryThing member mutantpudding
I liked the adventures the children went on in this book, particularly the one where they end up turned into turtles and have to go shopping. Humorous and creative. However, some aspects of this book have not aged well, mainly the incredibly racist illustrations and descriptions of the island
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natives they encounter on their pirate treasure hunt.
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LibraryThing member quondame
It is as recalled, but no more. Four siblings stay at a lakeside cottage with their mother and new step-father. They seem to feel entitled to magic and not the least bit careful of it to start.
LibraryThing member pussreboots
Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager is the third of the Tales of Magic series but the moral sequel to Half Magic. It's only a few weeks after the end of the sibling's first adventures, and now they are being whisked away to a lake for summer vacation with their mother and new step-father.

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children, desperate to avoid a boring summer of swimming and nature hikes, look for anything magical. Their prayers are answered in the form of an annoying, and officious turtle. The turtle's magic is their access to a summertime of adventures.

As it's a lake, most of these new adventures are water related: mermaids and pirates, and a rather unfortunate chapter with island savages. Then near the end, the book takes a preverbal left turn at Albuquerque and does some completely unexpected and extremely satisfying time travel.

Thematically I'd say this book is most like Drift House by Dale Peck, except without the underlying depressing subtext of a post-911 America. The children's adventures here aren't as an escape from real world terror.
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LibraryThing member ChazziFrazz
Jane, Mark, Katharine and Martha experience another magical adventure. This time it is summer. No school, just good times staying in a cottage at the lake. Spending the days on the beach and in the water.

While out on the lake, they meet a talking turtle, who tells them about the magic in the lake.
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They can utilize it for wonderful adventures, but there are rules that must be followed. Through the magic, they visit the South Pole, meet mermaids, pirates, cannibals and find buried treasure on an island; all making for an exciting summer. The good part is the magic is such that their parents never catch on to the children being gone on the adventures. The children always seem to make it back in time for dinner.

Trouble comes up when the children don’t want to follow the rules. They find out how important the rules are when they end up in a bad/dangerous situation. They also almost lose access to the magic, as a repercussion to ignoring the rules.

The story takes place in the 1940s, a slower way of life without any of the conveniences/inconveniences of today. I’ve enjoyed other books by Edward Eager and plan to read more. It is also nice to have illustrations sprinkled throughout the book. A nice change of pace.
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