The Houdini Box
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The Houdini Box

4.5 4
by Brian Selznick
     
 

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Open this book and come face-to-face with the greatest magician of all time: Harry Houdini!

Victor is forever trying to escape from locked trunks, to walk through walls, and to perform any number of Houdini's astonishing magic tricks...without success. Then -- amazingly -- he meets his idol and begs Houdini to explain himself. A

Overview

Open this book and come face-to-face with the greatest magician of all time: Harry Houdini!

Victor is forever trying to escape from locked trunks, to walk through walls, and to perform any number of Houdini's astonishing magic tricks...without success. Then -- amazingly -- he meets his idol and begs Houdini to explain himself. A mysterious, locked box is the only answer, and Victor is left to wonder: Does the box contain the secrets of the most famous magic tricks ever performed?

From the creator of the Caldecott Medal-winning bestseller The Invention of Hugo Cabret comes this magical storybook that combines captivating mystery with mesmerizing historical fiction. Now, as a bonus at the end of the book, you will find a biographical note about Houdini, an illustrated magic trick, never-before-seen sketches by Brian Selznick, and more. The Houdini Box conjures up the pure pleasure of an old-time magic show.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In his arresting, informative blend of fact and fiction, Selznick splendidly captures the sense of wonder surrounding Houdini." — Publishers Weekly

"Crosshatched pencil drawings expertly capture the story's droller moments, as well as Victor's changing expressions....This brief story has an appeal beyond its reading level." — School Library Journal

"Selznick illustrates his first book with vigorous, carefully composed black-and-white drawings; his faces express emotion with subtlety and quiet humor. The offbeat story is smoothly told...." — Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his first book for children, Selznick presents the compelling story of Harry Houdini, the magician who amazed the world with his great escapes. While Houdini circles the globe performing one incredible stunt after another, Victor, a young devotee, goes through his own rigorous magician's training at home--locking himself in closets, holding his breath under water, walking into walls. This counterpoint is a witty, effective device, and Selznick's deadpan text makes the most of it. It seems that Victor will never become a magician, until one day, after a chance encounter with his hero, he receives a special box that just might contain the secrets of Houdini's success. In his arresting, informative blend of fact and fiction, Selznick splendidly captures the sense of wonder that surrounded Houdini. Equally impressive are his evocative drawings; by turns droll, touching and downright silly, they bring added vitality to a captivating book. More than anything, however, this ambitious work teaches the importance of faith and the ability to believe in the impossible. Ages 6-11. (Apr.)
Children's Literature
Magicians can do anything. They can make candy appear and parents disappear. Victor, aged ten, wants to be a magician. He tries to duplicate the tricks of the great magician, Houdini, by locking himself in his grandmother's trunk, but his mother has to rescue him. He submerges himself in bathtub water and tries to count to five thousand, but his mother makes him get out and breathe. His success at walking through walls isn't any better. Then, a chance meeting with the real Houdini leads Victor to a box containing the secrets to the famous man's greatest tricks. Is it a hoax? This brief but cleverly engaging story follows Victor to adulthood before revealing the entertaining answer. While plenty of young readers will enjoy the tale by themselves, its subtle wit begs to be read aloud. The bold crosshatch pencil drawings depict dramatic enlargements and perspectives that accent the intrigue as well as the humor. Magicians and mystery lovers of all ages will enjoy this well-told, visually satisfying story. Additional information about Houdini is provided. 2001 (orig. 1991), Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, $17.00. Ages 6 up. Reviewer:Betty Hicks
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-- Ten-year-old Victor has no success emulating his hero, Harry Houdini; no matter how hard or often he tries, he just can't escape from a locked trunk, or hold his breath underwater for 5000 seconds, or run through walls. Then he meets the magician himself in a crowded train station, and some time later receives a mysterious locked box engraved with the initials ``E. W.'' Victor can't imagine who E. W. is and, disappointed, puts the box away. Years later, after Victor grows up and has a son of his own, he learns that Houdini's real name was Ehrich Weiss; he rushes home, opens the box, and that night, while his wife and child lie asleep, he locks himself in the trunk--and escapes in less than 20 seconds. Crosshatched pencil drawings expertly capture the story's droller moments, as well as Victor's changing expressions; details of dress and furnishings, plus dramatic posters on the endpapers, give this a period look and, appropriately, a slightly sentimental flavor. A capsule biography of Houdini is appended. This brief story has an appeal beyond its reading level. --John Peters, New York Public Library

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416968788
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
10/07/2008
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
80
Sales rank:
1,252,319
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 7.22(h) x 0.52(d)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Brian Selznick is the author and illustrator of the bestselling The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal and was a National Book Award finalist. He is also the illustrator of many books for children, including Frindle and Lunch Money by Andrew Clements, as well as the Doll People trilogy by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, and The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley, which was a Caldecott Honor Book. Mr. Selznick divides his time between Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California.

Brian Selznick is the author and illustrator of the bestselling The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal and was a National Book Award finalist. He is also the illustrator of many books for children, including Frindle and Lunch Money by Andrew Clements, as well as the Doll People trilogy by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, and The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley, which was a Caldecott Honor Book. Mr. Selznick divides his time between Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California
Date of Birth:
July 14, 1966
Place of Birth:
New Jersey
Education:
Rhode Island School of Design
Website:
http://theinventionofhugocabret.com/index.htm

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The Houdini Box 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Illustrations are great, but story is lacking. I am 10 and loooooved Hugo Cabret. Even as thick as it is, I read it all in a day and a half. I was looking forward to this Selznick installment, but it fell short. Quick, easy reading, but just not very captivating. Thought the ending fell flat. Not giving up on Selznick, yet, but disappointed in this one.
KatieMomof3 More than 1 year ago
There's just something about the illustrations and how they enliven the story. My 9 y.o. (who loves to read . . .) has picked this up and gone through it again several times.