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Houdini: The World's Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King

Overview

Introducing the astonishing, the unforgettable ... HOUDINI!

He made himself a living legend and became the most famous name in magic. But Harry Houdini, like his acts, was fascinating and mysterious. As a child, he was often on the edge of homelessness, so he would charge crowds to watch him perform tricks he knew no one else could do. After leaving home to seek his fortune, Houdini mastered every form of magic available— card tricks, juggling,...

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Overview

Introducing the astonishing, the unforgettable ... HOUDINI!

He made himself a living legend and became the most famous name in magic. But Harry Houdini, like his acts, was fascinating and mysterious. As a child, he was often on the edge of homelessness, so he would charge crowds to watch him perform tricks he knew no one else could do. After leaving home to seek his fortune, Houdini mastered every form of magic available— card tricks, juggling, illusions— and travelled the world over to make a name for himself.

But true stardom came to him only when he began to focus his act around daring, heart-stopping escapes. By sheer force of will, Houdini trained his body to withstand the torturous demands of the elaborate acts he created.

How did he do it? Magicians never tell. Yet acclaimed author Kathleen Krull and award-winning illustrator Eric Velasquez combine their talents to reveal the remarkable story of the World's Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Packed with period flair and lush oil illustrations, this picture-book biography spotlights perhaps the greatest name in magic. Exploring the life of a man who, even as a child, reveled in the attention of audiences, Krull (Wilma Unlimited) and Velasquez (The Piano Man) also shine when depicting some of the tricks that garnered him so much fame. Houdini, born Erik Weiss in Budapest in 1874, spent his childhood in Appleton, Wisc., where his acrobatic feats earned him the nickname "The Prince of the Air." He ran away from home at age 12 to lighten his family's financial burden, later reuniting with them in New York City. As his magic career skyrocketed, he changed his name to Harry Houdini, took another performer, Bess Rahner, as his wife and continually pushed the envelope in the scope of his tricks. Interspersed with this historical journey are spreads that depict several of his more famous feats-such as "The Milk Can Escape" and "The Water Torture Cell"-complete with a mustachioed Master of Ceremonies. The text in these scenes takes its cue from the hyperbolic advertisements of the era: "Underwater and upside down he hangs. He cannot breathe. A wrong move will break an ankle." Velasquez's oil illustrations are especially strong in these scenes that freeze-frame the feats of magic; they possess an almost photographic quality. A fine introduction to a fascinating, enigmatic figure. Ages 6-10. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The book is the show from the first curtain-rising page of this biography of Harry Houdini. The life story of this magician/showman is interspersed with descriptions and photo-like illustrations of some of his most famous tricks, including the milk can escape, the metamorphosis, the underwater handcuff release, the water torture cell, and the suspended strait jacket. Born in Hungary and raised in Appleton, Wisconsin, Houdini was a strong young boy who delighted in performing tricks. One of seven children, he loved being the center of the audience's attention; and early on, he developed a trapeze act. The fees he collected helped his impoverished family. As an adult, Houdini's first performances were card tricks and magic acts. Those, however, did not bring in the crowds that he sought. He turned his attention to dramatic escapes and, in the process, achieved the fame that had eluded him thus far. Kathleen Krull's condensed account of Houdini's life is both candid and intriguing; Eric Velasquez's illustrations are tinged with a vividness and excitement that draw the reader into this unusual story. Curious readers are sure to appreciate the bibliography of written and online sources. 2005, Walker, Ages 5 to 9.
—Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-An attractive, oversize picture-book biography. Framed descriptions of some of Houdini's most famous stunts are interspersed within the overview of his life. The author's crisp narrative style and careful choice of detail are evident here. Readers get a sense of Houdini's commitment, determination, and dedication to his family. His belief in hard work, self-education, and the value of books is emphasized. Velasquez's impressive framed, posed oil paintings portray the magician's intensity and sense of showmanship. Most of the illustrations feature Houdini and his performances, and the design and varied layout are very effective. This is, however, a somewhat sanitized portrayal of a complex and controversial figure. In an effort to portray a "real-life superhero," Krull avoids the negative aspects of his life such as the volatile combination of insecurity and arrogance, and alleged racism. Despite its narrow scope, this title will satisfy young Houdini fans. Older readers should try Clinton Cox's Houdini: Master of Illusion (Scholastic, 2001) or Tom Lalicki's Spellbinder (Holiday House, 2000) for more in-depth portraits of the master of magic.-Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802789532
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 3/1/2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: AD810L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.32 (w) x 12.30 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathleen Krull is a prominent biographer for young people. Her Wilma Unlimited was named an ALA Notable Book; her Lives of the Musicians was a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Award winner; and her other nonfiction has won countless other awards.

Kathleen also wrote A Woman for President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull for Walker & Company. She and her husband, illustrator Paul Brewer, live in San Diego, California.

Eric Velasquez won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award for his illustrations in The Piano Man. Of his illustrations in Champion: The Story of Muhammad Ali, School Library Journal wrote, "[they] capture the action in the ring like a series of photographic snapshots."

Eric grew up down the block from Houdini's Harlem brownstone and has had a lifelong fascination with him. Eric is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts. He lives in Hartsdale, New York, with his wife, Deborah.

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Recipe


Introducing the astonishing, the unforgettable ... HOUDINI!

 

He made himself a living legend and became the most famous name in magic. But Harry Houdini, like his acts, was fascinating and mysterious. As a child, he was often on the edge of homelessness, so he would charge crowds to watch him perform tricks he knew no one else could do. After leaving home to seek his fortune, Houdini mastered every form of magic available-- card tricks, juggling, illusions-- and travelled the world over to make a name for himself.

 

But true stardom came to him only when he began to focus his act around daring, heart-stopping escapes. By sheer force of will, Houdini trained his body to withstand the torturous demands of the elaborate acts he created.

 

How did he do it? Magicians never tell. Yet acclaimed author Kathleen Krull and award-winning illustrator Eric Velasquez combine their talents to reveal the remarkable story of the World's Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King.

 

Kathleen Krull is a prominent biographer for young people. Her Wilma Unlimited was named an ALA Notable Book; her Lives of the Musicians was a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Award winner; and her other nonfiction has won countless other awards.

 

Kathleen also wrote A Woman for President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull for Walker & Company. She and her husband, illustrator Paul Brewer, live in San Diego, California.

 

Eric Velasquez won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award for his illustrations in The Piano Man. Of his illustrations in Champion: The Story of Muhammad Ali, School Library Journalwrote, "[they] capture the action in the ring like a series of photographic snapshots."

 

Eric grew up down the block from Houdini's Harlem brownstone and has had a lifelong fascination with him. Eric is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts. He lives in Hartsdale, New York, with his wife, Deborah.

Read More Show Less

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