The Magic World

Book: The Magic World
Author: Edith Nesbit
Cover Illustrator: Paul Finn
Publisher: Puffin, reissued in 1996
ISBN-13: 978-0140367652
ISBN-10: 0140367659
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 10 and up
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Disclosure: Any books donated for review purposes are in turn donated to a library. No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.
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Nesbit, Edith. The Magic World (originally published in 1912 by Macmillan and Co. Ltd.; republished in 1988 by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc., 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). Edith Nesbit (1858-1924), though one might not agree with her socialist politics, was a wonderful children’s story teller who was admired by C. S. Lewis, beginning with The Story of the Treasure Seekers in 1899. We have previously enjoyed some of her books, including The Railway Children, Five Children and It, and The Enchanted Castle. Unlike the others, The Magic World is not a novel but a collection of twelve fantasy short stories.

In “The Cat-Hood Of Maurice,” a thoughtless boy is taught a lesson by his cat. In “The Mixed Mine,” a magic telescope brings two boys named Edward and Gustus a fortune. In “The Princess and the Hedge- Pig,” a very sensible prince and princess outwit a wicked fairy and usurpers. In “Septimus Septimusson,” the seventh son of a seventh son has to go seek his fortune. In “Justnowland,” a girl named Elsie is sent upstairs in disgrace and whisked away by a crow to the world of her dreams. And “The Aunt and Amabel,” with its train station tucked away inside a wardrobe in a spare room, was C. S. Lewis’ inspiration for setting the land of Narnia inside a similar wardrobe in The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe.

Some people object to any kind of “magic” in children’s books. They will obviously want to avoid The Magic World. However, the “magic” of this book is not primarily that of witches and sorcerers but basically that of fairy tales. There are a couple of references to drinking wine, a few common euphemisms (golly, drat, Lor’), and one mention of smoking a pipe. While children will enjoy following the well-told plots, adults can chuckle at the tongue-in-cheek humor in many of Nesbit’s aside comments. Many people especially like Nesbit’s ability to combine real-life situations with elements of magical fantasy.

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