Synopses & Reviews
Illusionist, escape artist, movie star, aviator, and spyHarry Houdini was all these and an international celebrity and the worlds most famous magician. This fascinating biography looks at all the facets of Houdinis amazing life and includes 21 magic tricks and illusions for a hands-on learning experience. Children will be inspired by this Jewish immigrant who grew up in poverty and, through perseverance and hard work, went on to become one of the most popular and successful entertainers of all time. Houdini was an artist who created his acts carefully, practicing them for years in some cases. He performed such seemingly impossible stunts as escaping several sets of handcuffs and ropes after jumping off a bridge into a flowing river. Kids will learn how he devised his most legendary stunts and will also learn the science and logic behind many of Houdinis acts including his famous milk can escape. Kids can amaze their family and friends with these simple, entertaining, and fun tricks and illusions: Stepping through an index card Performing an odd number trick Making a coin appear Mind reading with a secret code Making a magic box Lifting a person with one hand Making a talking board And much more
"This comprehensive biography plus activity book on the famed magician of the late 19th and early 20th centuries illuminates nearly as much about the era as about Harry Houdini. Supplying sidebars on such topics as vaudeville, Ouija boards and the Wright Brothers, Carlson (More than Moccasins) puts Houdini's career squarely in context. Her writing is detailed but conversational as she offers engrossing facts and tidbits: Houdini also worked as a spy, movie actor and stuntman, and ground-breaking aviator; his wife and performing partner once saved Buster Keaton from a fire. Readers will come away viewing Houdini as much a product of his time as of his own wits and making. The narrative seems dauntingly long, but is interspersed with explanations and diagrams of magic tricks, b&w photos and ephemera, and imaginatively chosen, decorative line art. The magic tricks are clearly explained and easy to do: make a Magic Box (it has a trick bottom) out of milk cartons, secretly pass messages to a partner, etc.; some activities reinforce the science behind many of Houdini's tricks. Ages 9 up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A very comprehensive biography" Publishers Weekly
"A wealth of detailed information on . . . Houdini." Kirkus Reviews
"Reluctant readers (as well as budding troublemakers) will flock to this biography/handbook hybrid . . .[Carlson's)]snappy writing gives it new life . . . enlivened with period photographs . . . this is one book that will magically vanish from shelves." Booklist
"The perfect introduction to the life of a celebrated magician." Curriculum Review
"Thoroughly entertaining biography." magic-books.blogspot.com
From his impoverished childhood to his feat of becoming one of the most successful entertainers of all time, this fascinating biography presents a memorable portrait of magician and escape artist Harry Houdini. Guidelines for 21 fun magic tricks are also provided, including how to stick a needle into a balloon without popping it, how to step through a note card, and how to make a coin vanish. Illustrating the science and logic behind many of Houdini's most notable acts, the magic-based activities also explain his famous Milk Can Escape through an accessible water displacement experiment and demonstrate simple mathematics with his Odd Number Trick. Touching on his time as an actor, an aviator, and possibly even a spy for the U.S. government, this thoroughly entertaining biography also features a time line, curriculum links for educators, and books and websites for further exploration.
About the Author
Laurie Carlson is the author of Classical Kids, Colonial Kids, Days of Knights and Damsels, Green Thumbs, Kids Camp!, More Than Moccasins, Thomas Edison for Kids, and Westward Ho! She is a professor at Western Oregon University.