Harry Houdini: Master of Magic Booktalk
- Grades: 6–8
About this book
Meet Harry Houdini, one of the first and certainly one of the greatest magicians, who challenged anyone to show him a lock that he could not unfasten, or a place from which he could not escape.
Magicians are everywhere these days. The most famous perform on television, or at Las Vegas nightclubs. Others work at local clubs or for children’s parties. And whether they admit it or not, they all owe a great debt to this man [show book’s cover], Harry Houdini, the greatest magician and escape artist of all time. His performances all over the world drew standing room crowds night after night. He dared police to find handcuffs, chains and locks that he could not escape from. He escaped from straitjackets, from locked trunks wrapped in chains, from jail cells, and from a milk can filled with water, the lid tightly locked on. He jumped into lakes and rivers, escaping from locks and chains underwater. He hung from skyscrapers and escaped hundreds of feet above the earth. He also challenged anyone to contact the dead, or to perform any other psychic feat that he could not duplicate. And he promised his wife Bess that if there was a way for him to communicate with her after his death, he would send her a secret coded message to let her know that he was alive in the afterlife.
And he did all these things without any of the technology that magicians today routinely use. He did it with a perfectly toned body, an enormous knowledge of locks of all kinds, and a determination to succeed that never faltered. His self-control was incredible. He once said that the hardest thing he’d had to do in his career was to conquer fear. “When I am stripped [naked] and manacled, nailed securely within a weighted packing case and thrown into the sea, or when I am buried alive under six feet of earth, it is necessary to preserve absolute serenity of spirit...If I grow panicky I am lost.”
But who was he really? How did he get interested in magic, and in escaping from every room or lock he could find? And what is the truth about the mysterious circumstances of his death?
Meet one of the most unique men in the world, and discover how he went from an eight-year-old shoeshine boy to one of the greatest performers of all time. Meet the mysterious Harry Houdini, the Handcuff and Manacle King, the Man Who Could Walk through Walls, the most incredible magician of his or any time!
This booktalk was written by librarian and booktalking expert Joni R. Bodart.