by Edward Eager
Gladly, this book has all the charm of the first two again. Five kids discover a mysterious old book in the library. It appears to be telling a story about them, only the book isn\’t complete, the end a run of blank pages. So they figure out it\’s a magic book and they can have adventures that will fill it up. I\’m not sure how it happens they decide their rules are how the magic works, but in a now-familiar pattern they take turns wishing themselves into curious and exciting episodes, that don\’t always turn out the way they expect. The book can only put them in adventures that come from other books, and I happened to recognize most of these. They go to the land of Oz before it was Oz (apparently), visit the prairie of the Little House books (with their own grandmother as a young schoolteacher), pause on Robinson Crusoe\’s island, and even have an encounter with characters from one of Eager\’s other books, with magic of her own. The episode where a baby got turned into a man who still acted and thought like a baby but could now speak, was hilarious. The part where one girl gets carried away by a dragon who is then shrunk down small enough to get pounced on by a cat, very clever. (Dragons and cats have always seemed to have similar temperaments, to me. It made sense they would dislike each other!) And the story of a girl wishing her father would make it big on the stage (he was a backup singer for a television performer) turned out to be a big criticism of television, with the kids all hoping this new invention of entertainment would not shoulder out books in the future. It\’s also fun that apart from this group of children, the book has different contents for each person who picks it up. All in all, it\’s a very fun bookish story with references dropped all over the place that I very much enjoyed.
Apparently The Well-Wishers was an anomaly of Eager\’s; other reviewers mention it is also their least-favorite of the series, and reading Seven-Day Magic has upped my hopes that all the rest I find will be good too.
Rating: 3/5 190 pages, 1962
A Little Reading