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His Life and Adventures with 21 Magic Tricks and Illusions

by Laurie Carlson

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-55652-782-1
Publisher: Chicago Review

Harry Houdini may be the most famous magician ever. He began his career working as a sideshow act in carnivals but, by virtue of talent, study and very hard work, elevated his craft to an art, making his name a household word. A few of his more clever illusions have never been fully explained; when he died at age 52 in 1927, he took many of his secrets to the grave. This biography includes a wealth of detailed information on both Houdini and a wide variety of only marginally related subjects. Page-long text boxes include biographies of the Wright brothers, Jack London and Theodore Roosevelt, and a description of the rambling Winchester Mansion. Although period photographs and advertisements add interest, the narrative is, unfortunately, often repetitive, sometimes almost word for word. The cover promises “21 Magic Tricks and Illusions,” but some of those are how to build a box kite, a recipe and an explanation of how to measure volume displacement of solids in water. An editor’s magic would have benefited this average effort. (further reading, source list, index) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)