Harry Houdini: The Legend of the World's Greatest Escape Artist

Harry Houdini: The Legend of the World's Greatest Escape Artist

by Janice Weaver, Chris Lane
     
 


This illustrated biography of Harry Houdini combines original artwork and archival artifacts—including photographs, playbills and posters, letters, and even some of Houdini’s own stage props—to bring the story of the world’s greatest escape artist to life.
Readers will learn all about Houdini’s unique rags-to-riches story, from his…  See more details below

Overview


This illustrated biography of Harry Houdini combines original artwork and archival artifacts—including photographs, playbills and posters, letters, and even some of Houdini’s own stage props—to bring the story of the world’s greatest escape artist to life.
Readers will learn all about Houdini’s unique rags-to-riches story, from his birth in a Hungarian ghetto to his death from a ruptured appendix at age fifty-two. The book details his career as an escape artist and explains how he evolved into the “King of Handcuffs” on the vaudeville circuit and became an international star as his escape attempts reached ever more elaborate and dangerous heights. Filled with little-known facts, this is the perfect book for readers interested in magic and the history of Houdini.
The book includes a bibliography and index.

Praise for Harry Houdini
"…a beautifully illustrated biography of this most fascinating man…With entertaining sidebars on metamorphosis tricks and dime bars, Harry Houdini is sure to enchant aspiring magicians, offbeat history buffs and anyone who, in our own straitened times, appreciates a good rag-to-riches tale"
New York Times

STARRED REVIEW
"Period photographs from newspapers, personal collections, advertising flyers, and other sources alternate with full-page color artwork to create a rich, engaging tableau. While there are several excellent biographies of Houdini available...this one is a solid addition."
School Library Journal, starred review

"A well-rounded addition to the children’s bookshelf about the multifaceted man."
Publishers Weekly

Award Recognition
2012 Orbis Pictus Recommended book
2012 Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Award – Honor book

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Weaver’s (Hudson) well-researched biography of Harry Houdini paints a complex picture of the escape artist who worked tirelessly to fill the public’s appetite for thrilling stunts. Her wide-ranging narrative, making use of numerous direct quotations, allows readers to see Houdini not only as the “King of Handcuffs” but also as an entrepreneur, family man, movie star, debunker of spiritualists, and, always, an entertainer not above bending the truth for self-promotion. Firmly placing Houdini’s life in the context of his time, wide sidebar panels provide details on that era, from immigration and child labor to dime museums and first flights (in 1910, Houdini himself made the first official airplane flight recorded in Australia). Each spread is visually inviting, mixing b&w photographs and colorful playbills, sometimes alongside moody full-page paintings from Lane (an illustrator making his children’s book debut), which contribute to an overall air of mystery. A well-rounded addition to the children’s bookshelf about the multifaceted man who said, “My chief task... has been to conquer fear.” Ages 8�12. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4�7—Prestidigitator, ghost hunter, magician, tie cutter, and messenger boy were some of Houdini's many pursuits, but escape artist is what he is most famous for, and rightly so. In this picture-book biography, Weaver tells the tale of how Ehrich Weiss, a Jewish immigrant and rabbi's son, morphed into the great Harry Houdini, magician and illusionist. His story is an interesting combination of luck, both good and bad; hard work; and sheer willpower, and the author conveys all of those elements in a manner that is accessible and thrilling to young readers. She covers everything from his early life in Wisconsin to the controversy surrounding his untimely death, as well as his widow's attempts to contact him in the afterlife through mediums. Period photographs from newspapers, personal collections, advertising flyers, and other sources alternate with full-page color artwork to create a rich, engaging tableau. While there are several excellent biographies of Houdini available, including Tom Lalicki's Spellbinder (Holiday House, 2000) and Sid Fleischman's Escape! (Greenwillow, 2006), this one is a solid addition. Houdini was a fascinating character and most collections can never have too much of a good thing.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA
Kirkus Reviews

Ehrich Weiss was born in Budapest and died Harry Houdini in Detroit, having lived a rags-to-riches story that was inescapably magical.

Though Harry's father had a law degree, was a rabbi and spoke several languages, he never seemed to find success, and Harry left home at 12 to find his way in the world. Like many children of the late 19th century, he had little education but many jobs. He was a newspaper boy, an assistant cutter in a tie factory, a shoe shiner and a messenger boy, but he escaped these dead-end jobs to find a future in magic, where there were better things to escape from: handcuffs, jails, milk cans and a Chinese Water Torture Cell. Though the cover bills this volume as "The Legend of the World's Greatest Escape Artist," Weaver's narrative is straightforward and factual, never quite conveying the excitement and magic of her subject. The unusual mix of original art and archival material—photographs, promotional posters and playbills—is bolstered by effective sidebars that offer historical context for the narrative. A section of references and resources will lead young readers to good books and websites that will help bring Houdini's magic to life more effectively than the text does by itself.

Overall, a solid-enough introduction to Houdini; good escapist reading that should lead to more. (source notes, index)(Biography. 8-12)

Pamela Paul
…a beautifully illustrated biography of this most fascinating man…With entertaining sidebars on metamorphosis tricks and dime bars, Harry Houdini is sure to enchant aspiring magicians, offbeat history buffs and anyone who, in our own straitened times, appreciates a good rag-to-riches tale.
—The New York Times

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781419700149
Publisher:
Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
10/01/2011
Pages:
48
Sales rank:
1,439,444
Product dimensions:
10.10(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
NC1150L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

Meet the Author

Janice Weaver is a noted non-fiction author for young people. Her book Hudson received a starred review from Booklist. She lives in Toronto. Chris Lane, an illustrator whose work has appeared in numerous publications, lives in Oakland, California.

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