Today on YA Rewind, I’m talking about not one, but four books: the Tales of Magic series by Edward Eager. I’ll talk about sequels that span a generation gap, and the benefits or lack thereof in marketing books as a series, before finishing with that old favorite, Book Jacket Theatre, the segment in which I pull really terrible blurbs from the ‘Paranormal Teen Romance’ section and give them all the melodrama they deserve.
An ordinary summer becomes an extraordinary adventure when four yong children, who have been reading the magic books of E. Nesbit, stumble on a magical world of their own. It all begins when Jane finds an ancient talisman. In no time at all, strange things begin to happen and soon the children discover that the coin will grant them half a wish. To get a complete wish, they must ask for twice as much as they want. They take turns making wishes. Mark’s wish lands them in the Sahara Desert and Katharine’s transports them to back to the days of King Arthur. And right in the midst of the incredible happenings, the children acquire a stepfather – and event that causes Jane to make one more wish.
When wishing for magic, it’s hard not to wish for too much. If Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha had stopped to think, they might have ordered magic by the pound, or by the day, or even by the halves – the way that had known it before in a book called Half Magic. But they didn’t stop to think and as a result find themselves with a whole lakeful of magic. Extraordinary and unexpected things happen as they learn to tame the magic with the unwilling assistance of a sly old turtle. Eventually, in an effort to help their stepfather, Mr. Smith, save his failing bookstore, the children find themselves involved with Ali Baba’s forty thieves. By the end of the vacation the children really are able to help Mr. Smith – and in a most surprising way.
If the old toy soldier hadn’t come to life, Roger would never have discovered the magic. And that would never have happened if he and his sister, Ann, hadn’t been sent to stay with their bossy cousins for the summer. And that wouldn’t have happened at all if their father hadn’t gotten sick and gone into the hospital. But all of that did happen, and now Roger, his sister, and their cousins find themselves in a bygone world of chivalry and knighthood, of Robin Hood and Ivanhoe. In this knightly realm they can make a difference – and perhaps even save the person they most need to save – if only they are smart and brave enough, if only they are true to their hearts.
From the moment Roger, Ann, Eliza, and Jack discover the fragrant bank of wild thyme in old Mrs. Whiton’s garden, magic begins. The thyme garden opens the way to olden time, future time, and common time. Though Eliza says time doesn’t grow – it flies – the Natterjack, the odd creature who presides over the garden, says anything can happen when you have all the time in the world. The four children are plunged into exhilarating, always unpredictable adventures – meeting the Revolutionary Minutemen, Queen Elizabeth I, and even their own parents when they were children. The Time Garden will capture the imagination of anyone who has ever wished for all the time in the world.
The poorly summarized paranormal teen romance featured in this episode’s Book Jacket Theatre can be found on Amazon: Obsidian (A Lux Novel).
If you have stories to share about your own favorite books from young adulthood or future suggestions for Book Jacket Theatre, e-mail YARewindPodcast@meganchristopher.net. If you enjoy YA Rewind, please subscribe and/or leave a comment on iTunes. Next time I’ll be revisiting Lloyd Alexander and The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen.