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Want to see something incredible?
I can twist my arm all the way around.
All it takes is a little magic…
Life is a little easier for Mike now that he’s found The White Rabbit magic shop. But after missing a special show from a visiting magician, Mike realizes h needs a way to get to the shop by himself. Unfortunately, he’s exhausted after only a week of being a model student, and Nora, his magician assistant and expert on good behavior, is distracted by a new friendship. Convincing his parents he’s responsible enough to ride his bike downtown alone will take a miracle…or maybe, magic.
About the Author
Kate Egan is a freelance editor and the author of several books including the picture book Kate and Nate Are Running Late. She lives in Brunswick, Maine, with her husband and two children.
Magician Mike Lane has been performing magic professionally for over 30 years. He lives with his wife, Donna, and their two children, Daniel and Lindsay, in Staten Island, New York.
Eric Wight is an author, illustrator, and animation director, whose books for children include the Frankie Pickle series. Eric lives in Chalfont, Pennsylvania, with his family. ericwight.com.
Read an Excerpt
The Incredible Twisting Arm
By Kate Egan
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2014 Kate Egan and Mike Lane
All rights reserved.
Friday afternoon. The end of another long week of fourth grade.
The principal hadn't called Mike's parents. Not even once. Mike had earned two green tickets for being a good citizen of his classroom, and no red tickets for poor choices. He'd finished his homework on time and sat through the Friday spelling test. But man, was he tired. And it felt like he was getting a cold. Mike didn't know how Nora, his next-door neighbor, handled being a model student week after week. Maybe it was easier if you were a genius.
The car slowed down and Mike's mom pulled into a parking spot just as a bleep announced she had a new text. "Why don't you go on without me?" she said to Mike. "I'll be there in a second."
Good thing, because he couldn't wait much longer. He'd been counting the hours since Monday. His reward for a smooth week? A trip to The White Rabbit, the local magic shop. To Mike, it was better than a ride on a roller coaster. Better than a week of snow days. Better than an ice-cream sundae! He practically ran to the door.
Anyone walking into The White Rabbit for the first time might think it was an antiques shop or a flea market. That's what Mike had thought, anyway. It was full of dusty furniture and things you might find in someone's attic after they died. All that stuff was sort of awesomely mysterious. But the best part about The White Rabbit was a little room, hidden in the back. It was full of equipment for magic tricks!
It turned out that the owner of The White Rabbit, Mr. Zerlin, was a magician. Did that mean he was a guy who could do tricks? Or a guy who had magic powers? Mike still didn't know. But there was one thing he knew for sure. For some reason, Mr. Zerlin was convinced that he — Mike! — could be a magician too. It was like some sixth sense allowed Mr. Zerlin to see something special about him. No wonder Mike was grinning as the door shut behind him.
"Hey, Mike!" said a teenager behind the counter. Carlos was here most afternoons. You'd call it a part-time job, except it wasn't like any job Mike had ever heard of. Mostly what Carlos did was play with the magic stuff, show it off for customers, and practice new tricks.
Mike's smile grew even bigger. Carlos knew his name now!
"Want to see something cool?" Carlos asked. "I just can't figure this out."
He came out from behind the counter and walked to a nearby table. Carlos wiped the dust off with the arm of his sweatshirt. Then he put his right hand down horizontally on the table, fingers facing toward the left. Slowly, he began to twist the hand toward his body.
"Okay ..." said Mike. He didn't get it. Carlos wasn't doing anything unusual at all.
"I bet you can do that," Carlos admitted. "But can you do this? I'm pretty sure this isn't normal. Maybe I'm double-jointed or something — I don't know."
Mike knew a kid who was double-jointed. He didn't know what that meant, exactly, except that the kid could bend his thumb all the way back until it touched his wrist. He did it on purpose, to freak people out.
So he watched as Carlos kept twisting his hand, a little more slowly. It was facing toward the right now. It looked like it hurt, but Carlos kept twisting. And twisting. And twisting ... until the hand went all the way around, like a hand on a clock. There was a terrible cracking sound while he did it. That double-jointed kid couldn't do anything like this! No one could — outside of a horror movie.
Carlos stood up and shook his hand in the air. "Ugh," he said. "Hurts like crazy. Can you believe that?"
A part of Mike knew that Carlos had fooled him. It was impossible, what he did! But Mike loved that moment when he wasn't sure, when he didn't know how a magic trick worked.
"Great effect!" said Mike. That was how magicians gave each other a compliment.
Then he sort of stood there, waiting. Hoping.
Outside The White Rabbit, Carlos would never tell how the effect worked. That was an important part of being a magician: keeping the secrets secret. Inside the store, though, magicians shared their tips and tricks all the time. Mr. Zerlin had taught Mike some illusions step by step. Maybe Carlos would teach him, too?
But no. The phone rang and Carlos ran for it and Mike tried not to be disappointed.
His mom came in with a paper cup from the coffee shop across the street. "Did you find anything you want to buy?" she asked.
"Not yet," said Mike. "I haven't even started looking!" That was when he headed for the room in the back. His mom wouldn't get him anything too expensive, he knew, but she'd be good for a new deck of cards. Or maybe a wand. It was just so hard to choose! If Mr. Zerlin were here, he might be able to help. But Mike didn't see him anywhere.
While Mike poked around, his mom stayed in the front of the shop, peering into a case of old jewelry. Carlos was moving furniture, trying to make some space in the middle of the floor. After a while, he set up some folding chairs. Mike could hear them clanking together.
"So, are you guys coming tomorrow?" Carlos asked Mrs. Weiss.
"What's happening tomorrow?" Mike's mom said.
"At three o'clock, we're having a special show by a visiting magician," Carlos replied. "An expert in transformations."
That was turning one thing into another, Mike remembered. Like a blue silk handkerchief into a red one. Or an eight of clubs into a six of hearts. He didn't know how to do that yet. He wished he knew how to do that. But the Weisses were busy tomorrow.
"We have other plans," he heard his mom say. "Sorry, but we just can't make it. Maybe another time." Mike didn't even get a chance to speak for himself.
It was his grandma's birthday. She was coming for dinner with his aunt and uncle and cousins. A pair of tiny twins. Okay, it wasn't as bad as it sounded. Mike didn't have brothers or sisters, so his cousins were the next best thing. Plus he was crazy about his grandma. But he wanted to see the magician, and he knew there was no chance it would ever happen now. His parents always made a big deal out of birthdays.
He picked out a trick he hadn't learned yet — a set of blue cups and red foam balls — and walked glumly toward the counter to pay. Carlos was still chatting with his mom. "Supposed to get cold tonight," Carlos said, almost like he was a grown-up.
Carlos was just a kid, though. He came to The White Rabbit on his bike after school. He wasn't even old enough to drive.
Suddenly, Mike thought of something. If Carlos could do that, maybe he could do it, too. Ride his bike into town, all by himself. He'd had one good week, right? If he had a few more good weeks, maybe his mom and dad would trust him to come to The White Rabbit on his own.
If he was ever going to be a magician, he couldn't wait around for his parents, right? The more Mike thought about it, the more he was convinced. If he had his way, he'd never miss another magic show again. He'd be a regular at the shop. In no time, Carlos would be sharing secrets with him, too!
Mike turned around and walked back into the magic room. He'd get those cups and balls another time. Today, there was something else he needed.
On one shelf there was a little section of stuff that was supposed to bring you good luck. Mike bent down to take a close look at what was there. Four-leaf clovers. Horseshoes. There were even some rabbit's foot keychains. ... Not so lucky for the rabbits, Mike thought. But whatever.
The horseshoe was small enough to stick in the pocket of his backpack, but big enough so it wouldn't get lost. Mike knew, because he lost stuff all the time.
"Ready?" his mom said as soon as she spotted him. She was at the counter with her wallet.
"Ready," said Mike. Ready to leave, since he had to. But mostly ready to work on his plan: becoming the new Mike. Like the Mike he'd been all week ... only better. Mature, responsible, totally trustworthy.
He'd need all the good luck he could get.CHAPTER 2
Mike's parents always liked to get advice from experts. If they had a problem with their sink, they wouldn't just call a plumber. They'd find a Master Plumber. When Mike needed extra help in math, they made sure he got Mr. Malone, who also taught kids at the high school. Mike's parents trusted people who were the best of the best.
And Mike happened to know the local expert on being mature and responsible!
She had straight Es on her last report card for "exceeds expectations." Her parent-teacher conference was practically a party. She was Mike's new friend, Nora, who lived right next door. He saw her every day. Maybe she'd know what he had to do to impress his parents and earn a new privilege.
Mike's mom and dad were in the kitchen. Their guests would be arriving in a couple of hours, and his parents had just come home with the groceries. Now they were rushing around, getting things ready. It was a good time to stay out of their way.
"I'll be in the yard!" Mike said on his way out. He crossed the stretch of grass between his house and Nora's, and rang her doorbell. When she came to the door, Mike said, "Hey, want to come over for a while?"
Nora disappeared inside to ask if it was okay, then ran back, her ponytail flying out behind her. "Should I bring anything with me?" she asked. Sometimes she and Mike worked on magic tricks together after school.
"No magic right now," Mike said. "Actually, I need a little advice."
Nora zipped up her jacket and gave him a funny look as they crossed back into his yard. "About what?" she asked.
"It's just that there's a magic show at The White Rabbit today, and I have to miss it. It's my grandma's birthday, and my relatives are all coming for dinner."
Mike sat down on one of his swings, and Nora sat on the one next to him. "So you want me to ... find a way to get you to the store?"
"Not exactly," Mike said. Not even Nora could do that. "But I'm making a plan to get there next time. If I can show my parents I'm mature and responsible, maybe they'll let me ride my bike downtown by myself."
Nora thought about it for a minute. "My parents would never go for that," she said, shaking her head.
Nora's parents were stricter than Mike's. They were into organic food and limited screen time. "I know," said Mike. "But I think my parents would like it if I could do things on my own. It's just that they don't think they can trust me."
"So you need to change their minds," Nora said.
It was good that she always understood things so quickly. "Yeah," said Mike. "So what do you think I should do?"
It was a little embarrassing to be asking, actually. What if someone walked by and overheard them? Mike's house was on the corner, so his yard wasn't in the back of the house. More like right on the street.
Nora thought it over. "You could help out around the house a little," she said. "Do some extra chores." Nora knew all about chores, so Mike listened carefully. "Empty the dishwasher. Put away your laundry. That sort of thing."
"Yeah," Mike said again. It didn't sound that exciting.
"Yard work?" suggested Nora. "Keep your room clean?"
This plan was sounding way too hard. And that was before Nora made her worst suggestion of all. "Bring home a really good report card?"
Mike just stared at her. "I bet you could do it," Nora said optimistically.
How could she even think that? Mike wondered. They were together every day after school. She'd seen him struggle with multiplication and book reports. He never exceeded expectations. His report card always said "needs improvement."
"I'm just saying," Nora said. "That would change your parents' minds for sure."
"Okay," said Mike. "I'll think about it."
It was time to change the subject.
"So ... there's this new trick I want to try," he said, taking a deck of cards out of his pocket. "It's a cool one. But I'm going to need a partner."
Her eyes lit up. "I could be your partner."
"Great!" said Mike. That was exactly what he hoped she'd say. Nora was the only person he'd trust with a secret like this. With magic, though, he was the expert. "I'll tell you how it works!"
Mike had learned the trick from The Book of Secrets, the amazing book that Mr. Zerlin had given him soon after they met. First a spectator would pick a card and Mike would look at it. Then he'd make a big announcement: He knew someone with magical powers so great that they could tell what the card was ... over the phone!
"So you'll be the mysterious friend," Mike explained. "Your name is Ms. Magus — that means sorcerer. I'll call you on the phone and ask you to identify the card. Really, though, I'll be telling you what the card is, using a code we work out ahead of time. Once you know what it is, you'll talk to the spectator on the phone, and tell them what the card is. Then, you know, the person will faint from the shock."
He was kidding about that last part. But Nora wasn't laughing. Suddenly Mike noticed she was waving to someone in the street.
It was Emily Winston and her mom — they lived down the block — walking their beagle, Pookie. They weren't Mike's favorite neighbors, but he followed Nora over to say hello.
Pookie sniffed Mike's hand. "Gentle," Mrs. Winston cautioned, like she always did. Long ago, he'd pulled the dog's tail, and Mrs. Winston had never forgotten. Mike would always be five years old to her. Not old enough to bike downtown. Not even off training wheels! Pretty soon, though, she'd see how Mike had changed.
Emily barely even looked at Mike. She was all about Nora. "What are you doing later?" Emily asked, girl to girl. "Want to come over after we finish walking the dog?"
Mike glared at Emily. Nora was at his house right now. They were in the middle of something important!
But Nora turned to Mike and said, "You're having guests, right?" And what could he say? It was true.
"Sure!" said Nora. "I'll tell my dad. Want me to bring my jump rope?" Emily nodded, like she and Nora jump-roped together all the time. As she walked away with Pookie, Mike wished he could make her disappear.
Nora was really making friends with Emily Winston? Mike couldn't believe it. Emily was the kind of kid who always shushed him when he forgot to raise his hand at school. Could one person be friends with both him and her? Mike was pretty sure that was impossible.
He tried to shake it off. Get back to the trick. He still needed to tell Nora the code. And there was another problem, too.
"How am I going to make the call to Ms. Magus?" he asked, like they had never stopped talking. Some kids his age had cell phones, but not Mike. Not Nora, either. Maybe she'd have some good ideas?
Before she could answer, he heard his mom. "Mike!" she called. "Could you set the table for me, please?"
He really didn't want to. But one look at Nora reminded him: The new Mike was mature and responsible. Just like her.
"Sure!" he called back, super-helpful.
And even though he hated to do it, he used the same cheerful voice to say good-bye to Nora. "Gotta go," he said. "Have fun at Emily's!"CHAPTER 3
Mike took extra care with the table. He folded the napkins. He made sure there were enough chairs. He wasn't sure where he was supposed to put the forks and knives, but he did the best he could.
From the dining-room window, Mike could see his aunt's car pull into his driveway. His grandma stepped out of the front seat, carrying a bag of presents. But she was the one with the birthday, Mike thought. So who were they for? He went outside to check things out.
Mike gave a cautious wave to Aunt Susan and Uncle Jim. They sometimes asked that question that adults loved to ask: "How's school?" He had an agreement with his grandma, though, that she would never ask unless he brought it up first.
Her face lit up when she saw him. "Mike!" she said, wrapping him into a gentle bear hug. "You've grown about a foot!" Grown-ups always said that, too, but it was okay. Her bright red sweater was soft against Mike's face.
Two small bodies burst out of the backseat. "Boo!" shouted Jake and Lily at the same time. "We scared you, Mike? Right?"
The twins were wearing costumes, even though Halloween was last week. Jake was a firefighter and Lily was a princess.
Mike remembered when he was five, like them. He could never get enough of his costume, either. And he still loved jumping out at people to scare them, even though other fourth graders thought it was annoying.
Before he could even talk to his grandma, the twins were begging him to play. Jake spotted a pile of leaves Mike's dad had raked. He leaped into the middle and called, "Come on, Mike!"
Nora hadn't mentioned it, but Mike knew that some kids their age helped take care of their younger brothers and sisters. If he helped out with the twins, it could send the right message to his parents. They'd see him taking charge ... practically a grown-up himself! After that, how could they keep him from riding his bike to The White Rabbit?
Monster Chase was one of his favorite games when he was little. Mike was sure his cousins would love it too. Once the adults went inside, he turned to them. "I'm gonna get you!" he growled. "Grrr!"
His fingers were claws and his roar was as loud as a freight train! Mike chased Jake and Lily onto the porch and up to the top of the swing set. They hid in the bushes until he launched a sneak attack. "You can't catch us!" they yelled.
Excerpted from The Incredible Twisting Arm by Kate Egan. Copyright © 2014 Kate Egan and Mike Lane. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Reward,
Chapter 2: Help Me!,
Chapter 3: Family Party,
Chapter 4: Try Again,
Chapter 5: Plan B,
Chapter 6: Practicing,
Chapter 7: Walking on Air,
Chapter 8: Playground Magic,
Chapter 9: The Incredible Twisting Arm,
Chapter 10: On His Own,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Everyone of Magic Mike's books were loved by my children, and I would recommend them to anyone with children. They are beautifully written and illustrated, so that every child can enjoy them, and they will remember them for many years to come.