When four children find what they think is a nickel on the sidewalk they little realize what is in store for them. It turns out that it is a magic coin…or mostly anyway. After a series of wishes in which the children’s intentions are hilariously thwarted, they finally realize that the coin will indeed grant wishes – but only half of the wish. Being quick-witted and intelligent, as well as resourceful, the children quickly think up ways to work around this flaw, and are well on their way to adventure. From traveling back in time – the visit to King Arthur’s Court is particularly memorable – to becoming invisible, there is no end to the wonders the coin can produce. Or is there?
The four children – Jane, Martha, Katherine, and Mark- are instantly recognizable and almost real in their portrayal. They bicker and fight just like real children do, without the precocious one-liners we see in television or the almost saintly sibling relationships we sometimes see in fiction. The story was originally written in the fifties and appears to be set in the author’s childhood, but there is a timelessness to the story that transcends the occasional dated reference.
This book has been a classic for decades, and I personally hope that it will continue to be popular with the following generations.