Posts Tagged ‘edward eager’

BBT: Eager Readers!!!

Monday, June 8th, 2009


Because I ended up posting Wendy’s comments on the blog yesterday… she’s our BBT Eager Reader today!  I love what Wendy has to say about Eager, especially her thoughts on his “borrowing” from Nesbit.  I, myself, “borrow” a lot and I prefer to be very obvious about it…

I think one of the things I loved best about Edward Eager books was the extreme ordinariness of the children and the world they lived in.  The kids in Eager books get bored, get disappointed, and have to go Baltimore instead of the Rockies.  They continually irritate each other and do stupid things.  But they have MAGIC.  Any child, reading these books, would have to feel like magic is waiting for them, too, if they wish on the right coins.  (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rubbed a sprig of thyme and sniffed, half-hoping I’d be sent back in time.)

You also get the feeling that the kids find ordinary things just as exciting and almost magical as the real magic: picnics with individual box lunches, going to a movie, swimming in the ocean, going to the library, and so on.  That’s how I felt as a kid about those things, and, of course, it’s even more how I feel about my childhood looking back on it as an adult.

The magic is necessary for me, though.  I’ve only reread Magic or Not? and The Well Wishers a couple of times (versus… I don’t know how many for the others.)  I just want to whisper to the kids that REAL magic is much better, and they ought to go get some.  It’s interesting: it seems there’s a large faction that think these two were Eager’s masterpieces, and the rest of us don’t care for them much at all; no one in between.

I’ve also read a review or analysis that claims The Time Garden is widely acknowledged to be Eager’s weakest work.  I don’t know who widely acknowledged that, but I don’t find it to be true.

As for the Nesbit issue… when I finally got around to reading some Nesbit–I was probably about 12, and it was The Enchanted Castle–I was sort of distressed.  I knew, of course, that Eager’s books were all Nesbit homage, but I didn’t expect them to be THAT close.  I thought they would just be sort of in the same style.  I was sad to acknowledge that Eager wasn’t as creative as I’d thought.  I enjoyed The Enchanted Castle, but haven’t picked up another Nesbit since then, maybe because I wanted to avoid cognitive dissonance.  But, scandalous as it is, I do sort of think that Eager’s books have aged better (except for the sexism and racism, of course, but these are what I expect to find in books written at that time).  The dialogue is snappier and funnier, and the prose is simpler.  Of course, I should probably READ some more Nesbit before I go around making statements like that–that’s what Eager wanted, after all.

Maybe that can be a summer project.  I’ve always been glad that he was so very blunt about borrowing from Nesbit–there are other authors who borrow almost as much and don’t acknowledge it.

Yep!  I’m a big believer in stealing openly.  Best just to hang the title of “thief” on yourself.  Fits better that way.  And this makes me wonder if readers know of other authors who’ve stolen so shamelessly…

BBT: Eager Readers!!!

Sunday, June 7th, 2009


Many wonderful bloggers and writers have sent me their thoughts on Eager, but I decided to begin my Backwards Blog Tour with the fabulous  Mitali Perkins, (prolific author, friendly blogger, and organizer extraordinaire) because while she loves Eager, she also addresses an aspect of his work that I find, as an adult reader, problematic.

Mitali says:

I grew up loving Edward Eager. As a kid, I skipped over the strange ethnic stereotyping I now notice in some of his books. Maybe it’s because when it came to issues of race, Eager won my trust with “The Well-Wishers,” a story published in 1960 about a black family moving into an all-white town. The book could read like another “white people should welcome black people” didactic tale were it not for the twist Eager added of tough guy Dicky LeBaron’s mentoring of the new kid Hannibal. At age 11, I moved into an all-white town myself. When Dicky advises Hannibal, “Be yourself, dad, and like it,” I felt like he was talking to me, encouraging me, giving me permission to be brown. Read in 2009, “The Well-Wishers” can still inspire kids that to take a stand against injustice, thanks to Eager’s strong characters, deprecating humor, and good intentions, otherwise known as well-wishing.

I’m so glad that Mitali wrote this, because I had absolutely forgotten about Hannibal!  The Well Wishers and its partner-book Magic or Not? are less “magical” than Eager’s other books, and as such, I (a goofy magic-loving child) read them less often.  But in general, I think we need to talk more about this issue of race and historical context!

It’s something  I have trouble hammering out, for myself.  I heard the other day that several classics have recently been “updated” (is this true? does anyone know anything more about it? Mary Poppins? Really?!)  I had a violent reaction to the idea. But… I also find myself uncomfortable with leaving the books as they are…  Remember Achmed the A-rab in Half Magic?


And we can’t just censor the book, right?


What do you think?

The Backwards Blog Tour: Eager Readers!

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

(yeah, this guy!)

NOW! Introducing and announcing with great fanfare!!! A brand-spanking new blog feature!  An invention!


Why a backwards blog tour? you ask…

No particular reason. Just seemed like fun!

What’s a backwards blog tour? you ask…

Well, instead of running around the blogosphere, answering other people’s random (and often repetitive) questions… I’m inviting other folks  here, to answer ONE question!

What question might that be? you ask…

Why, I’m glad you’re so curious!  The question is: WHAT DO  YOU REMEMBER/LOVE/ HATE ABOUT READING EDWARD EAGER? Hence the name of the blog feature: Eager Readers!

Now, right about this time you might be thinking, Hey, tthat sounds totally random, Laurel!

And it does sound random, I know…but  see, I have a reason for all of this madness.

Because my new book, Any Which Wall, is a tribute to Edward Eager.  Best known for having penned Half Magic, Eager in fact  wrote a slew of funny, imaginative books betwen 1952 and 1962.  In these books, regular children, living in America, encountered magic, made mistakes, and had a lot of fun in a an everyday way.  Eager really helped pave the way (along with his hero, Edith Nesbit) for all the magic books kids love today. Percy Jackson,  Potter, etc…

Though of course, he wasn’t perfect, and not everyone loves him as I do.  (and if you don‘t love him, please shoot me an email and tell me why!)

But in trying to learn more about him, and in attempting to track down his family, I hit brick walls everywhere.  There’s just not much to be found.  I went in search of his grandchildren, and came up empty handed…

So instead of skipping blithely around the blogosphere this month, talking about myself, and harassing you all with amazon links at every turn…  I thought I’d celebrate my book release by asking  the blogosphere to come over here, for a party, to discuss and share tidbits and memories about this mysterious man. Eagerly!

Do you loathe his treatment of women?

Do you admire his use of herb gardens?

Do you have a particular memory of something from one of his books?


I hereby beg for/ request/ welcome/ invite thoughts from other people who have memories or thoughts about the books and life of Edward Eager.  I’d welcome anyone’s comments, and will happily post anything I get at laurelsnyder (at)

Stay tuned for more!!!

A fruitless search…

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Today, in preparation for next month’s publication of Any Which Wall, I set out to look for other fans of Edward Eager, since WALL is a kind of tribute to Eager.  I thought maybe I could interest Eager fans in MY BOOK!

But sadly, I have to report that there’s just nothing online about Eager.  No fan page, no fan club, nothing.

I find this hard to accept.  Eager has been in print for half a century.  He was a bestseller in his day, and every library I’ve ever set foot in has had a copy of Half Magic on its shelves.  I know countless people who love his books, and yet– I guess he just doesn’t inspite the kind of excitement required for fandom.

Which has me thinking about devotion, obsession.  What is it about some books that inspires frenzy?  Madness? Passion?  Eager’s books are, I guess, not those kinds of books.

They’re not the kind of books you have wild nights with. They’re just the kind of books you marry.