This was recommended several places, including Gretchen Rubin’s list of 81 favorite kids books, as an excellent read aloud or book for kids. We needed a new read aloud, and the library had it as an e-book, so I wouldn’t have to worry about finishing it before it was due back.
Genre: intrusive fantasy
Length: 192 pages
Setting: Toledo, Ohio, 1950s
Summary: The siblings Jane, Mark, Katherine, and Martha are hoping for an exciting summer, but they know it will be boring as usual. Things change when Jane pick up a magic charm that grants wishes. It takes a couple of bungled wishes (a fire in a playhouse, a mumbling cat, the mother magically getting half-way home, and a trip to a desert instead of a deserted island) before the children learn the trick of the charm – it only grants half the wish. They use the charm to go on a quest with Lancelot, although all doesn’t go according to plan. Even knowing how the charm works, several ill-conceived wishes cause problems. The best thing the charm does is bring Mr. Smith into their lives. he wants to marry the children’s mother (with their blessing), but she thinks she’s going crazy because of all the magic. It all works out in the end.
Final thoughts: It was an enjoyable enough story, but it just didn’t grab me. The kids enjoyed it quite a bit, so maybe I’m just too old to really appreciate the book. It is a sweet, low stress book because no one is every really in danger. It also fits into that category of intrusive fantasy because everything is realistic except for that magic charm. It was amusing seeing how the kids would double their wishes so they got wanted.
Overall, I liked the kids. They weren’t too sappy sweet, but argued as siblings will. Even so, when Jane wishes herself into another family, the rest of the siblings work hard to bring her back because family is important. I could tell the book was written a while ago. The interactions between the children and adults have changed in modern days. Adults are much more tolerant and interested in kids than they were in the 1950s. Mr. Smith was the exception, but he was notable because of that exception. The kids also have a lot of freedom around the town, heading off for the day with a toddler and no adult supervision.
There are more books in the series, that feature the magic charm, not necessarily the characters in this book. I’ll probably read at least some of them to the kids.
Title comes from: The kids found a magic charm that granted half a wish.
Reading challenges fulfilled: book #24 for the year, and an E in my Author Reading the Alphabet Challenge
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