Anyone who wants to read book reviews is in luck, because I have two of them here.
Half Magic, by Edward Eager – Eager’s children’s books are largely based on those by Edith Nesbit, a connection he acknowledges within the story itself. This one involves four children of a single, working mother who find a talisman that can grant wishes. The only problem is that it only grants half of what someone wishes for, which isn’t a problem if you remember to double your wishes, but otherwise can cause some unexpected results. I found it to be an interesting idea, and there’s even a visit to King Arthur’s court. I didn’t get that much of a sense of each individual child, but I did like how their mother’s finding a new husband was intertwined with the wishes. Mari Ness recently wrote her own more detailed review of the book, which I would recommend to anyone else who’s read this one. I’m thinking of following along with her reviews of the Eager books.
Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme, by Chris Roberts – This book is about the origins of nursery rhymes. Well, I should say the POSSIBLE origins of nursery rhymes, as most of them are quite old and hence steeped in mystery. Roberts, a librarian and giver of walking tours in London, admits that “this book has gone for the most interesting and plausible in its search for the reason behind the rhyme.” As such, it presents some possible explanations as factual even when we don’t really know, and some of them strike me as a bit unlikely. I do understand that he usually sticks to explanations that deal with English history, however. Roberts has an engaging and thoroughly British style that I quite like, so the book is definitely worth a read. Just try to refrain from claiming that Roberts’ explanations are THE stories behind the rhymes, because I’m rather tired of people saying “Ring Around the Rosie” is about the Black Plague as if it’s been conclusively proven. While addressing the plague interpretation, Roberts even admits that this one “may actually just be an innocent dancing rhyme.”