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.
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.