Edward Eager was one of my favorite authors when I was a child, and I will be forever grateful to him for his frequent mentions of writer E. Nesbit, because that is how I discovered her books. A few months ago, I read Half Magic (I love all of Eager's books, but I think that one is my favorite) to my children (kindergarten and 2nd grade), and they really enjoyed it. This week I finished reading Seven-Day Magic to them, and it was a hit as well. In fact, after we finished it, they spent several minutes poring over the list of other books by Eager, deciding which one we should read next.
The story is about a group of friends who go to the library every weekend. On this Saturday in particular, they find a battered old book, and the librarian (who appears to know more about that book than she's letting on) informs them that it is a seven-day book, which must be returned the following week. It isn't long before the children discover that this special book is magic -- not only is it writing their story, but it can also grant wishes -- and the children take turns wishing for the most exciting adventures they can think of.
I always looked for that magical, battered red book whenever I went to the library -- I knew it had to be in a library somewhere, and why not mine? I never did find it, though. Could that have influenced my decision to become a librarian? Hmmm...
This is a good choice for a read-aloud, because the plot is episodic - each child gets a turn to make a wish, and the events of each wish make up what is almost a stand-alone short story. Readers of Half Magic will be treated to a glimpse of what happens at the end of that book (something that delighted me as a child). Another reason I loved the book so much was that the magical adventures extended into the children's real lives and made lasting changes. I always hated those books with ambiguous endings about whether it all really happened or not.
Seven-Day Magic by Edward Eager (Harcourt, 1962)