Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Making Your Own Magic

I think I owe a debt of gratitude to Edward Eager (1911-1964). He was an American lyricist and playwright who became a children’s book author. Why would a someone so successful in the theater turn to children’s lit? Because he couldn’t find stories he wanted to read to his son.


That is the best reason to become a writer. None of this oh, I had a book in me that was screaming to get out. No I must follow my muse. Just the simple answer – I couldn’t find anything I wanted to read. Don’t write what you know. Write what you want to read. I am going to print that up and hang it over my desk. That is the path I followed so far in my own writing and I am relieved to see that someone else successfully followed it before me. 🙂

Anyhoo, back to Mr. Eager. He wrote operettas and musicals from the early 1940s through the early 1960s. While I have not heard of most of them, I can tell by some of their descriptions on wikipedia that I would have enjoyed them. For example, Dream With Music (1944) where a soap opera writer dreams that she is Scheherazade and her real life acquaintances turn up as Aladdin, the Sultan and so on.

His children’s books though I know and love.

The Magic series begins with Half Magic (1954) where four kids find a talisman that can grant half wishes. Others in the series are Knight’s Castle (1956), Magic By the Lake (1957), The Time Garden (1958), Magic Or Not? (1959), The Well-Wishers (1960) and Seven-Day Magic (1962). You can buy them all together in the omnibus edition Edward Eager’s Tales of Magic (2000).

In addition to this wonderful series, he has also written three stand alone books which I was unaware of until this post- Red Head (1951),  Mouse Manor (1952), and Playing Possum (1955). All of them are out of print and unfortunately do not look like they are very easy to come by. I may have to search libraries and online used book stores to find them. 🙂

Though he only wrote children’s books for about a decade, he made a significant contributions with his Magic series. He works every day magic with the realism of every day life. Find a coin, or a book, and find magic in the palm of your hand. Many children’s fantasy authors have followed this idea. Consider the wardrobe to Narnia, platform 9 3/4 to Hogwarts- it seems most magical adventures can start in the most common of settings. I can’t help but think this would infuse young readers with the belief that a magical adventure could whisk them away at any moment. And as a writer, that is true magic indeed. 🙂

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