A Spotlight for Harry


Harry Weiss?later known as Harry Houdini?is enthralled when the circus comes to his Wisconsin town. He loves all the acts, but his favorites are the tightrope and the amazing trick where a man hangs from a rope by his teeth! Harry and his brother decide to try circus tricks in a nearby barn, and although Harry?s headstrong determination leads him into trouble, it also opens up a whole new world. In this evocative story, Eric A. Kimmel tells how...

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A Spotlight for Harry

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Harry Weiss—later known as Harry Houdini—is enthralled when the circus comes to his Wisconsin town. He loves all the acts, but his favorites are the tightrope and the amazing trick where a man hangs from a rope by his teeth! Harry and his brother decide to try circus tricks in a nearby barn, and although Harry’s headstrong determination leads him into trouble, it also opens up a whole new world. In this evocative story, Eric A. Kimmel tells how Harry Weiss discovered his love for performing, many years before he became world famous.
History Stepping Stones now feature updated content that emphasizes Common Core and today’s renewed interest in nonfiction. Perfect for home, school, and library bookshelves!

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Lisette Baez
Early readers will be captivated by this exciting story of young Harry Weiss, the boy who would much later become known as Harry Houdini, one of the greatest magicians ever. The plot is based on actual events from Harry's childhood. Harry was fascinated by the circus from the first time he witnessed the many acts and daring feats. He was especially intrigued by the tightrope when he watched a man hang from the rope by his teeth. Harry thought the tricks looked easy, so he talked his brother Dash into starting a circus with him in the neighborhood barn. Their secret soon led to some problems, but Harry was determined to make it a reality. This delightful story is easy to read and maintains reader interest throughout. Clearly conveying the message that even in the face of adversity, perseverance will prevail, this book will inspire children to follow their dreams. The author's note at the end of the book supports the story by neatly providing further information for the reader. Reviewer: Lisette Baez
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Harry Houdini's life was interesting and full of examples of persistence and dedication to his craft. Unfortunately, not many of them are represented in this brief chapter book. In this story, Ehrich Weiss, the son of a rabbi, attends a small circus and is inspired by the tightrope act. He goes home eager to try it for himself and soon learns the secret. Then he tries another stunt with disastrous results. He loses his front teeth, but learns an important lesson. The book contains a few true facts about Weiss's childhood and mentions his early interest in locks and performing. The writing, though fluent, is a little didactic. Children will see through the thinly veiled preaching about being polite, persistent, and careful. Black-and-white drawings, some full page, appear throughout. A better fictionalized account of Houdini's life is Kathryn Kilby Borland and Helen Ross Speicher's Harry Houdini: Young Magician (Aladdin, 1991). In it, the lessons arise from the story rather than being superimposed on it. It also gives much more factual information about Houdini's life.—Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
Kirkus Reviews
When the circus comes, Harry, son of the town's rabbi, is transfixed by the tightrope walker, who tops the show by hanging from his teeth. The boy picks the lock on an old barn so he and his brother can rig a makeshift tightrope. With persistence, Harry eventually manages to walk the rope, but soon things go terribly wrong. Harry, now missing two teeth, marks the advice of the circus's tightrope walker: "Being prepared will save your life when the unexpected happens." The undaunted Harry's burgeoning talent comes to light when he easily escapes from handcuffs that he finds. Writing in spare, direct prose, Kimmel waits until the author's note to reveal that these events are based on the childhood of the famous Harry Houdini. Madsen's soft, black-and-white illustrations glow on the page and enhance the sense of time and place. Harry, though an historical figure, has just the right amount of ingenuity and adventurousness to appeal to modern readers and forward the timeless notion of keeping your eye on your dream. (author's note) (Fiction. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375856969
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Series: A Stepping Stone Book(TM) Series
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 697,572
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 500L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Kimmel is the award-winning author of several well-known children’s books, including A Horn for Louis and A Picture for Marc, which was a Sydney Taylor Notable Book and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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