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Author: Poskitt, Kjartan
Tells the story of the curious boy who became the world's greatest magician and reveals how Houdini did some of his most stunning escapes.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (05/01/19)
School Library Journal (-) (08/01/19)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 06/01/2019 This entry in the First Names biography series will appeal equally to those unfamiliar and familiar with Houdini and his death-defying stunts. It covers his birth in Hungary, arrival in the U.S. at age four, marriage, worldwide success, and death, in 1926, from a ruptured appendix. Houdini, known as the Handcuff King because of his lock-picking ability, was also a contortionist, film star, and debunker of fake mediums. The book reveals that he slept only four hours a night, wrote an estimated 100 letters a week, had an amazing daily workout routine, and was the first person to fly a plane over Australia. Cartoon illustrations show how Houdini accomplished many of his tricks, and one, of his New York City mansion with its 26 rooms, trick front door, secret panels, and hidden microphones, is particularly fun. This informative biography is a chatty and engaging read for the uninitiated as well as for those who thought they knew everything about one of the greatest magicians of all time. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 08/01/2019 Gr 3–7—This series presents a lighthearted and easy look at some of the world's most famous celebrities. The informal tone and accompanying cartoon illustrations give these texts the feel of biographies that can be read for pleasure, while the level of detail ensures that the information is accurate. The first two books are written in a narrative style, and because the text is broken up with frequent illustrations, they do not come off as intimidating, textbook-heavy reads. The writing is also supported with time lines, glossaries, and bibliographies in the back, should readers want further information. The main weakness of the series is the lack of primary source material. Because there are no photographs or portraits, the stories come off as a little disingenuous. Nonfiction books can be especially impactful when they are accompanied with beautiful, full-color pictures, letters, and maps. Since these books have only cartoons, readers may feel disconnected from the real historical figures and the times in which they lived. The illustrations may prove to be comforting for fiction readers who enjoy diary style series like Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and Rachel Renée Russell's "Dork Diaries." VERDICT While telling interesting stories, these books could be better supported with higher quality, varied visuals. The reading experience would be enhanced with photographic depictions of the people being described, instead of exclusively using exaggerated caricature.—Sara Kundrik, Gilbert Paterson Middle School, Alta. - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.