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"Half Magic" -- Entirely Fun
Half Magic
Edward Eager
In 1956, i found a copy of this book in Miss Hollytree's third-grade classroom in Greenville SC.

I was already a confirmed reader (with a couple of the "Swallows & Amazons" books under my belt), with an inclination toward fantasy, and this was Just My Thing.

The concept that each bit of magic has rules that you have to deduce and learn in order to make it do what you want was and is a wonderful one (with echoes, intentional or otherwise, in Dave Duncan's "Man of His Word" books), which hit me, age eight, like a thunderbolt.

The setting in a time gone by (the 1920's), the references to other books and other stories (there are even more in the sequels and Eager's other children's fantasies) and the general air of slightly bewildered straight-faced whimsey endeared the book to me, and still do, almost forty-five years later.

And there are a couple of valuable little lessons more or less painlessly worked into the story, which ought endear it to parents and teachers (but don't tell the kids, right?)

This book and its sequels have gone in and out of print for years; whenever, after a long drought, i would again encounter it, i would realise just what large parts of it i had painlessly committed to memory, and i would realise just how much i again enjoyed re-reading Eager's whimsical prose.

It's a kids book, but adults who enjoy a good light fantasy with a touch of truth at bottom should like it, also.

(The wonderful original illustrations by N.M.Bodecker, reprinted here, still complement the text perfectly...)