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Authors: Edward Eager

Seven-Day Magic

BOOK: Seven-Day Magic
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Seven-Day Magic
Edward Eager
Table of Contents

Title Page

Table of Contents



1. Finding It

2. Using It

3. Taming It

4. Losing It

5. Thwarting It

6. Being Thwarted

7. Keeping It?

8. Giving It Back

About the Author

Copyright © 1962 by Edward Eager
Copyright renewed 1990 by Jane Eager, Torsten Weld Bodecker,
Niels Weld Bodecker, and Alexander Weld Bodecker

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy,
recording, or any information storage and retrieval system,
without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be
submitted online at
or mailed to the following address:
Permissions Department, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company,
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

First Harcourt Young Classics edition 1999
First Odyssey Classics edition 1990
First published 1962

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Eager, Edward.
Seven-day magic/by Edward Eager; illustrated by N. M. Bodecker.
p. cm.
"An Odyssey/Harcourt Young Classic."
Summary: A seven-day book of magic proves to be fractious for five children,
who must learn the book's rules and tame its magic.
[1. Magic—Fiction. 2. Wishes—Fiction. 3. Space and time—Fiction.]
I. Bodecker, N. M., ill. II. Title.
PZ7.E115Se 1999
[Fic]—dc21 99-22563
ISBN 978-0-15-202079-8 ISBN 978-0-15-202078-1 (pb)

Printed in the United States of America


For Ann Drakeley,
when she isn't quite so new,
and Peter Saxon,
if he hasn't grown too old

1. Finding It

"The best kind of book," said Barnaby, "is a magic book."

"Naturally," said John.

There was a silence, as they all thought about this and how true it was.

"The best kind of magic book," said Barnaby, leaning back against the edge of the long, low library table and surveying the crowded bookshelves, only seeming somehow to look beyond them and beyond everything else, too, the way he so often did, "is when it's about ordinary people like us, and then something happens and it's magic."

"Like when you find a nickel, except it isn't a nickel—it's a half-magic talisman," said Susan.

"Or you're playing in the front yard and somebody asks is this the road to Butterfield," said Abbie.

"Only it isn't at all—it's the road to Oz!" shrilled Fredericka, jigging up and down excitedly, for she had read the book in which this happens.

The lady sitting at the far end of the table sighed and looked up, putting her hand to her head as if it ached. "Please," she said. "Can't we have quiet?"

"Now, now!" Miss Dowitcher, the librarian, wagged a finger in merry reproof as she skimmed past. "Now, now. This is a children's room, you know. It's for the children to enjoy."

The lady sighed again, closed the book she was reading, and opened another. Abbie tried to catch her eye and look sympathetic, but the lady would not meet her gaze.

Abbie knew the lady well, by sight. She was called Miss Prang, Miss Eulalie Smythe Prang, and she spent most of her days in the children's room at the library, looking in the different books and taking things out. When she had taken enough out, she put it together into a new book. There were a lot of her books on the library's shelves already, but they were not the kind of magic books Barnaby and John and Susan and Abbie and Fredericka had in mind. Mostly they were about dear little fairies who lived in buttercups.

Abbie sometimes thought that if Miss Prang would listen when she heard children talking, instead of sighing and putting her hand to her head, it might do her books a lot of good. For instance, she ought to be listening to Barnaby right now.

"The best kind of magic book," Barnaby was saying, "is the kind where the magic has rules. And you have to deal with it and thwart it before it thwarts you. Only sometimes you forget and get thwarted."

Everybody began talking at the same time, and the name of E. Nesbit was heard in more than one voice, for she was the five children's favorite author and no wonder (though Fredericka liked the Oz books nearly as well).

"Why couldn't she have lived forever?" said Abbie, taking that best of all Nesbit books,
The Enchanted Castle,
down from the shelf and looking at it with loving eyes. "We've read all of hers, and nobody seems to do books like that anymore."

"If you could have a brand-new magic book, specially made for you," said John, "what would you choose?"

"One about a lot of children," said Abbie.

"One about five children just like us," said Fredericka.

"And they're walking home from somewhere and the magic starts suddenly before they know it," said Susan.

"And they have to learn its rules and tame it and make the most of it," said Barnaby.

At the far end of the table Miss Prang muttered to herself, pushed the books about in front of her, and at last half rose to her feet, gazing imploringly in the direction of the librarian's desk.

Miss Dowitcher came skimming across the room again. "I think, then, children, if you're ready to go?" she murmured apologetically. "Perhaps it would be best. Have you found enough books to take?"

Of course they had not, for who has ever found enough books?

But they scrabbled together the ones they had chosen and lined up at the desk to have the date stamped in them. It was then that Susan looked back and saw the book sitting all by itself at one end of the bottom shelf.

It was a red book, smallish but plump, comfortable and shabby. There had once been gilt letters on the back, but these had rubbed away, and Susan couldn't read the name of what it was. Still, it looked odd enough to be interesting and worn enough to have been enjoyed by countless generations. On a sudden impulse she added it to the pile in her arms and took her place at the end of the line.

She thought Miss Dowitcher looked at her a bit strangely when she saw the red book, but "That's a seven-day book" was all she said. Susan was surprised. Usually the books that had to be returned in seven days were the newest ones, and new was the last thing she would have thought this book to be.

"Oh, we'll be through with it before that," she said.

"I wouldn't be too sure," remarked Miss Dowitcher, in rather a peculiar voice Susan thought. But she stamped the book with a will, and a minute later Susan and the others emerged from the library into the bright, new-washed June morning.

If you had seen the five children coming down the library steps that day, you would have thought they belonged to two families, and this was true.

John and Susan were tall and light-haired and calm. Barnaby and Abbie and Fredericka were little and quick and dark.

"You two look just the way you are," Barnaby had said one day, back when the two families had first met. "You look worthy and dependable. You look like people who would be president and vice president of the class."

"Well," admitted Susan apologetically, "we usually are."

She and John were president and vice president of the fifth grade this year. They were in the same class, not because they were twins (which they weren't) but because John had been very sick once and missed a whole year of school. But that was long ago.

Now John was big and strong and played quarterback on the school football team. Susan was captain of girls' soccer, and they were both rather good at chess. In schoolwork their marks generally averaged B, or at least B minus. Almost everybody liked them, even teachers, and their days were pleasant if uneventful.

Or at least that was the way things had always been up till last summer.

But then last summer Barnaby moved into the house across the road and turned out to be in their room in school, and after that things were changed.

Barnaby was a person with ideas.

"I don't see what you see in that little runt," big Pete Schroeder said to John at football practice one day back in the fall, when Barnaby was still the new boy in Miss Dugdale's room. "I don't see what you want to go round with him all the time for."

"It's like this," John told him. "He has ideas. And he's my best friend. So lay off."

Big Pete Schroeder laid off. Because John's word was law in five-one-A. The only one who could tell John what to do was Barnaby. Barnaby had ideas.

The ideas Barnaby had weren't always good ones, but he had them one after another, all day long. And some of them were exciting.

He believed in magic, for one thing, or said he did. He believed that anything could happen, any minute, and that sometimes you could
things happen, if you tried hard enough. And he could think up wonderful games and ways to make the most boring things seem like fun.

Nobody would ever have taken Barnaby for the president of anything. He was not dignified enough. And everybody did not like him as much as John and Susan did. He was stubborn and hot-tempered and impatient, and when he disagreed with people, he started arguments. Miss Dugdale said the trouble with Barnaby was he was opinionated.

Susan sometimes tried to reason with Barnaby for his own good. And other times John had to step in and defend him when he got into fights with boys who were bigger than he was.

That was one thing about Barnaby, even his enemies agreed. He had spunk. He wasn't afraid of anybody. But he wasn't really at his best with his fists. He was more of a brain.

It was typical of him, Susan and John felt, to have an interesting and unusual name and to have sisters with interesting names, too, Abigail and Fredericka.

names sound just like us," Susan complained one day after Barnaby had come into their lives.

"Good old Susan and John," agreed John.

Barnaby liked his own name. He was proud of its differentness and would never answer to "Barney" or any other nickname. And Fredericka was just the same. People took their lives in their hands who dared to call her "Freddy." Fredericka was the baby of the family and even fiercer-tempered than Barnaby.

But everybody called Abigail Abbie.

Abbie was that kind of person, just jolly and friendly, with no temper at all. Barnaby always said Abbie must be a throwback, only he couldn't decide what she was a throwback
She wasn't a bit like the rest of the family.

"That's 'cause she's the middle one," said Barnaby's father, overhearing this one afternoon. "Middle ones are mild. Only don't count on it. She may surprise you someday." He ruffled Abbie's hair, and Abbie gave him a loving look.

Barnaby and Abbie and Fredericka's father was a nice man. He was a singer on television, but not a famous one yet. Mostly you saw him as one of a quartet singing that his beer was Finegold, the dry beer, or wanting someone to be sociable and have a Poopsi.

He was little and quick and dark like Barnaby, and when he was at home playing croquet or badminton with the kids, he looked more like their brother than their father. But he wasn't home so very often, because with three children to support, he had to go in to New York at all kinds of hours on all kinds of different singing jobs.

Barnaby's mother used to be a dancer, but now she went whizzing around all day in her old car, trying to sell other people houses, to help make ends meet and keep up their payments on their own house. Their house was new and little, just large enough to hold a family of five.

Susan and John's house across the road was big and old. Sometimes Susan thought it was
big for just her and John and Grannie.

Susan and John's parents had died a long time ago, the same year John was so sick. After that Grannie came to stay with them, but whether she was taking care of them or they were taking care of her was never quite clear. Susan and John often felt as if Grannie were the child and they were the grown-ups. Grannie was like that.

She was little and frail and older than most grandmothers and yet almost too energetic. And she was so unexpected in what she might do and often did, such as climbing cherry trees or shoveling snow off the walk, that Susan and John hated to leave her alone in the house any more than they had to. Sometimes one of them would miss a party sooner than have both of them go out for a whole evening at the same time.

Not that Grannie would have climbed trees or shoveled snow in the dark of night, but she would probably think of something just as dangerous and unsuitable.

So altogether it was wonderful for Susan and John when Barnaby moved into the little new house and they had a friend right at home, almost in the front yard.

And then to have the friend turn out to be a person with ideas was almost too good to be true.

BOOK: Seven-Day Magic
3.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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