THE SECRET OF THE GREAT HOUDINI by Robert Burleigh

THE SECRET OF THE GREAT HOUDINI

by , illustrated by
Age Range: 7 - 10

KIRKUS REVIEW

Those expecting an easy answer to what Houdini’s secret really was may be disappointed, but the truth is ultimately more satisfying: he worked incredibly hard, practiced, and believed in his ability. Young Sam learns the importance of searching for his own secret when he and his Uncle Ezra are captivated by one of Houdini’s legendary escapes in this brief but gripping account. The seriousness of the challenge facing Houdini is reinforced by the solemn, dark pastel-and-ink illustrations. Sketchy figures are outlined against deep, watery blues and purples and steely grays, evoking the apprehension Sam feels as he looks at the water in which Houdini’s trunk will be submerged, “So cold and deep it makes his skin feel bumpy.” Uncle Ezra reassures Sam, but not with false promises; he admits Houdini may be afraid, but reiterates that Houdini hears the inner voice of his own confidence. Aides chain Houdini, place him into the trunk, and drop the trunk into the water. As Sam and the rest of the watching crowd grow ever more anxious, readers will find themselves holding their own breath, until at last Houdini bursts from the surface of the water, exhausted but triumphant. The text is interspersed with bold, italicized excerpts of Houdini’s pitch, challenging the audience to believe in the unbelievable. Houdini is a fascinating figure for all ages; this snapshot of one incredible feat and its witnesses will introduce children to the “secret” of his success and may spur further exploration, and inspiration. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-83267-2
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2002




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