________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 41. . . .June 25, 2010.


Magic Up Your Sleeve: Amazing Illusions, Tricks, and Science Facts You’ll Never Believe.

Helaine Becker. Illustrated by Claudia Dávila.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press/Owlkids Books, 2010.
64 pp., pbk. & hc., $12.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-897349-76-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-897349-75-5 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Magic trick-Juvenile literature.
Science-Miscellaneous-Juvenile literature.
Science and magic-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Clancy Pryde.





Pay attention to how long it takes your volunteer to do the first two calculations. To multiply by ten – the value of a dime – you simply add a zero to the end of the number. But multiplying a number by five – the value of a nickel – takes longer. The quickest calculation is the hand with the dime. The rest of the calculations are just to distract the audience!

If you know any budding prestidigitators, you’ll want to make sure that this fabulous new book by Helaine Becker appears in their hands as soon as possible. Because as fast as you can say abracadabra, they’ll be on their way to amusing you with new tricks, as well as amazing you with facts about the science behind the magic.

     Using nothing but basic household items, such as coins, cards and cups, young readers will quickly be able to perform any of the 30 impressive illusions. All tricks are clearly explained with easy-to-follow instructions and have been assigned a difficulty rating of one, two or three wands. The scientific principle that is being manipulated to create each illusion of magic is also entertainingly explained in a “What’s Going On?” sidebar. Novice magicians will experiment with optical illusions, air pressure, gravity and many other science concepts in a thoroughly engaging, hands-on way as they master each trick. In addition, all tricks are indexed at the back of the book by title as well as by concept. To round out each section of the book, there are intriguing pages about magic through the ages, magical mysteries in nature and famous magicians of the past, all light-heartedly presented with wit and humour.

     Although none of the tricks in this book are particularly hard, some do require a bit more preparation and practice than others. The payoff will be well worth it, though, when the assembled audience starts to ooh and aah and shout, “How did you do that?!” This would be a good time for the performer to point out that a magician never reveals his or her secrets, as detailed in the final chapter of the book, the Magician’s Survival Guide. In this section, readers will find encouraging words about practicing, great tips for adding polish to an act so it really dazzles and the requisite oath that a magician must make to never reveal how a trick is done.

     Part of the magic of this book is definitely the art work. Claudia Dávila’s playful and fun illustrations are the perfect match for Becker’s humor-filled writing style. The book is a joy to read and would make an excellent addition to any home or school library. It is sure to be on loan often, though, so don’t be surprised if it seems like your copy of Magic Up Your Sleeve has disappeared!

Highly Recommended.

Clancy Pryde is a teacher in Toronto, ON.

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

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