100 Chapter Books Project: Half Magic

halfmagicA weird coincidence this time: the book Half Magic by Edward Eager is from 1954 and it comes in at number 54 on the list. Perhaps there was a bit of magic involved?

What it’s about: Four siblings–Jane, Mark, Katharine and Martha–come across a small magic charm one day at the beginning of summer and it completely changes their lives. They have adventures in time, space and even in their hometown. But the biggest magic might be something they never would have expected.

Age level: Grade 3-6

Best part: It’s the way that the kids figure out that the magic is being done by halves without adult guidance. (If they make a normal wish on the charm, it gets half-granted. So, for example, if they wish to be in a certain place, they would instead end up halfway there.) It’s a tricky bit of problem solving but they manage without any help.

Worst part: I really like this book and have no real complaints but, if I have to choose something, it’s that Sir Launcelot is a total jerk.

Verdict: Buy

Z and I read this together a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it but I think I liked it even more this time through on audiobook. It was a great ensemble narration that was fun to listen to. I also felt better about one part that seemed a bit racist the first time through because I caught the nuance of the situation. I think I might read Magic By the Lake this summer just because I had fun again with this story!

This read counts for the Once Upon a Time VIII Challenge as a fantasy title.

The next book is A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck. It was one of the books suggested to me a few months back when Z needed a historical fiction book for school. I was told that it was very funny so I’m excited to read it. I’ve already got it from the library on audiobook!

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Schedule – June through September
note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after
June 30 – #67 A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck (1998)
July 15 – #72 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (2009)
July 31 – #6 Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)
August 15 – #74 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (1970)
August 30 – #66 The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (2009)
September 15 – #14 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1938)

The Estella Project – Season Two

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Hello! And welcome to Season 2 of The Estella Project! Last summer, we hosted The Estella Project, Season 1, asking followers to submit the one book, THE ONE BOOK; that they would put into everyone’s hands if given the chance. Then we challenged them to pick three from the list to read and report back on. So much great reading came from it; that we decided to do it again!

In the form below, submit your book for consideration. We don’t care of there are duplicates from last year. That ONE BOOK may still BE YOUR ONE BOOK. And maybe we didn’t read it last year.

Reads will be posted on June 1st, the day we plan to start reading and will run through the end of August. We hope to have a couple of Twitter chats and who knows what other kind of fun. Hope you will join in!

100 Chapter Books Project: The Children of Green Knowe

Toward the bottom of the Top 100 list, at number 90, is The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston. I read this book (and the rest of the series) for the first time a few years ago because Eva raved about it. I fell immediately in love with the series and lamented that I hadn’t found them as a child. The one thing I didn’t realize was that this first book in the series was written in 1954. It feels much, much older with its castle and ghosts and the easy combining of nature, religion and tradition.

What it’s about: This book introduces us to the stone house which dates from Norman times. Though it has had many names over the years, it has always come back to being called Green Knowe. The story starts with a young boy named Toseland who is coming to live with his Great-Grandmother Oldknow. He has lost his mother and his father has remarried and moved to the East so he is feeling a bit alone. But although there are only two living people in the home, it is alive with the spirits of those who have come before. Over the fireplace is a portrait of three children–Toby, Alexander and Linnet–from the 1800s who have left behind some of their treasures in the home and perhaps a bit of themselves as well.

Age level: Grade 3-6

Best character: Mrs. Oldknow is an amazing lady. She gives Tolly the opportunity to explore Green Knowe and find out most of its secrets on his own. She also still believes in all of the magic of the place so this isn’t one of those stories where only the kid can see the ghosts. She actually sees them more often than Tolly does because she’s known them since she was a child. She’s also kind and gentle and still spry despite what must be her advanced age as a great-grandmother.

Worst character: Green Noah … only because he’s a scary, evil shrubbery that tries to attack Tolly on a dark night during a thunderstorm.

Verdict: Buy/Borrow

Like I mentioned before, this book seems much older than it is. It could be because the Oldknows don’t have electricity or a car or many other modernities even though they exist outside of their small world. It could also be because of the amount of time spent in the past with their ancestors’ stories. The lines of time are blurred giving a quality of agelessness. I love that about this book — the idea that the past, present and future of a place are not linear but layered and can be navigated by a sensitive believer.

This read counts for the Once Upon a Time VIII Challenge as a fantasy title.

I’ve scheduled time off for our (very late) Spring Break, my birthday/Easter (they’re on the same day this year) and Readathon, so I’ll be back in mid-May with The High King, the final book in the Chronicles of Prydain series. I read the first book, The Book of Three, for this project so, as a series completist, I’ll fit in the middle three books before I get to the last one.

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Schedule – May through July
note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after
May 15 – #68 The High King by Lloyd Alexander (1968)
May 31 – #85 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (1997)
June 15 – #54 Half Magic by Edward Eager (1954)
June 30 – #67 A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck (1998)
July 15 – #72 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (2009)
July 31 – #6 Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)