________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 7 . . . .November 25, 2005

cover

Harry Houdini: A Magical Life.

Elizabeth MacLeod.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2005.
32 pp., pbk. & cl., $7.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55337-770-2 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55337-769-9 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Houdini, Harry, 1874-1926-Juvenile literature.
Magicians-United States-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Escape artists-United States-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Patricia Fay.

**** /4

   

excerpt:

While in Rochester, New York, in 1907, Harry performed his first Manacled Bridge Jump. ("Manacled" is another word for "handcuffed".) The scene was the Weighlock Bridge. Thousands began gathering beforehand to see Harry, shackled in handcuffs and chains, jump into the water far below. Harry waited till the crowd was silent, then took a deep breath...and leaped off the bridge.

The onlookers held their breath. Would Harry free himself or would he drown? Fifteen seconds after Harry hit the water, a bare arm thrust up above the surface, holding the open cuffs. He'd done it!

How did Harry perform his amazing escapes?

Few people know for sure, but many have tried to guess.

 

Elizabeth MacLeod has done an excellent job researching and writing about Harry Houdini's life for a younger audience. Each two-page spread focuses on a different time or aspect of his life, from his early life as the son of an immigrant rabbi, to his success on stages across the U.S., Europe and Australia. The colourful pictures, illustrations and informative sidebars all add to the text. A timeline of Harry's life, an index and the table of contents are included.

      Houdini and his wife, Bess, became very successful, but endured lots of hard times, too. At one point, Harry tried to sell his magic tricks for $20.00, but there were no buyers! He eventually became known for his escape tricks - from handcuffs, straight jackets, milk cans and coffins. An accomplished magician, at one time he made an elephant disappear! He also made six movies.

     Curiously enough, Harry Houdini died on October 31, 1924, from a ruptured appendix, but his fame lives on today in the admiration of countless followers.

      This book will be a welcome addition to the biography section in any library.

Highly Recommended.

Patricia Fay is a teacher-librarian at Beaumont Elementary School in Winnipeg, MB. She once owned a collie that loved to escape from the fenced yard, thereby earning the nickname, "Houdini"!

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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