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Harry Houdini for Kids Review by Charlotte GochnauerLaurie Carlson
Chicago Review Press
814 N. Franklin Street
Chicago, IL 60610
This biography is a comprehensive look at Ehrich Weisz, who would one day become Harry Houdini, the famous escape artist. But not only was he a famous magician; he was also a film star, world traveler, aviator, and a spy for the U.S. government.
The book begins by describing Houdini's childhood as an immigrant, and includes historical background of life in the late 1800s. He became interested in tricks and magic at a young age, and then in his late teens he began working in dime museums and traveling circuses. He married, and his wife joined him in his magic acts. But what he is most well known for are his amazing escape tricks. He traveled the world, impressing kings and presidents with his seemingly death defying stunts. Later in his career, he began researching spiritualism and seances and began openly opposing them as fraudulent. This gained him many enemies and made his death at age 52 even more mysterious.
The recommended age range for this book is 9 and up. Sprinkled throughout are instructions for various stunts, number and coin tricks, escape hints, and instructions on how to make some of his contraptions. Stunt secrets are revealed as well as the importance that codes and patterns play in pulling off a trick. There are numerous photographs and posters of Houdini, documenting his childhood, magic shows he performed in, and his many travels.
My 12-year-old son really enjoyed this book. The projects suggested were simple but challenging and age appropriate, and they illustrated the magic tricks well. I also appreciated that the illusions were explained in full, including the science and logic behind the tricks. This book is an excellent choice to use as a biographical reading or as a part of your study of American history.