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Posted March 18, 2010
made me want to read Ivanhoe!
Edward Eager, who lived from 1911 to 1964, was a playwright and lyricist. In 1951, while searching for books to read to his young son Fritz, he began writing children's stories similar to the fantasy books of Edith Nesbit. In Knight's Castle, the father of Roger, age eleven, and Ann, age eight, is ill and has to cancel their summer family vacation to the Rocky Mountains so that he can go for an operation to a hospital in Baltimore, MD, where the family moves in with their Aunt Katherine and their two boring cousins, Eliza, age eleven, and Jack, age twelve. Roger brings along his set of two hundred and fifty-six model soldiers, including the one he calls "The Old One." The children end up having an exciting summer after all when this old toy soldier comes to life and they are magically transported back to the days of Wilfred of Ivanhoe, Rebecca, Rowena, Robin Hood, Prince John, and King Richard, taking part in the siege of Torquilstone.
Those who object to any mention of "magic" in stories will not like this book; however, it is not the magic of witchcraft but of "fairy tales." I enjoyed the book. The only objectionable elements that I found were references to where the children were allowed to drink wine, the fact that in one of their times back in Ivanhoe's day the guards were smoking cigarettes, and one occasion when the girls had a party where they talked about boys and danced the Lindy. Also, a few common euphemisms are found (golly, gee, gosh, and darn are each used once). Aside from these minor flaws, the story is quite entertaining. I have always wanted to read Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, and this book increased my desire even more.
Eager's other books include Half Magic, where Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha suddenly find themselves involved in a series of extraordinary adventures after Jane discovers an ordinary-looking coin that seems to grant wishes; its sequel, Magic By The Lake, which contain the further adventures of Mark, Katherine, Jane, and Martha, who find their source of magic in a lake near which they are spending the summer after Mark captures an ancient turtle that seems to have extraordinary powers; Time Garden (another sequel?), in which four cousins spending a summer in a house by the sea discover a magic thyme garden from which they embark on a number of adventures in time; Magic or Not? in which a family moves to Connecticut and twins James and Laura make new friends with whom they begin a series of unusual adventures after discovering an old well that seems to be magic in their backyard; Well-Wishers, in which six children relate their experiences with an unpredictable old wishing well that involves them in some magical adventures during an eventful autumn; and Seven-Day Magic, in which a seven-day book of magic proves to be fractious for five children, who must learn the book's rules and tame its magic.
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