Harry Houdini for Kids: His Life and Adventures with 21 Magic Tricks and Illusions
Chicago Review Press, 2009 (2009)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch
have a budding magician at home, so I was very intrigued by this very comprehensive book about the world's most famous magician, Harry Houdini.
his book, in a word, is fascinating. Not only are we treated to a biography of the master magician's life, but we are drawn into a long vanished world of dime museums, vaudeville and the traveling circus, many of which were venues that allowed Houdini to climb to the height of his fame.
e learn that Ehrich Weisz (who later changed his name to honor his idol, French magician Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin) was a Jewish immigrant from Hungary, who promised his dying father that he would always care for his mother. It was fate that landed him an apprenticeship with a locksmith - his ability to pick a lock sparked an interest that led to his becoming one of the most famous escape artists of all time.
he book is well-researched, well-written and very extensive; it covers a lot of detailed information about Houdini's early years, his struggle with and eventual rise to fame, his marriage, his movie career, and his ultimate death on Halloween, 1926. It also discusses, in great depth, many of his famous tricks and illusions.
hile I appreciated the highly detailed biography, I don't know if a younger child would be inclined to read every word, although they might be interested in the timeline of Houdini's life at the beginning of the book. What children will likely appreciate the most, though, are the magic tricks sprinkled throughout the book, which are explained in detail. They include the
Magical Money Trick
where money is made to appear out of thin air;
Mind Reading with Secret Code
Dissolving Rings Trick
Write and Invisible Message
riceless old photographs round out the book, which will appeal to older children as well as adults.
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