THE HOUDINI BOX by Brian Selznick

November 5, 2008 at 7:03 pm Leave a comment

houdiniboxHoudini, the greatest magician of all time, could escape from ropes, chains, cabinets, and coffins. He could escape from a straitjacket while dangling upside down over a river. He could escape locked up in a trunk and thrown into the river. Ten-year-old Victor wanted to be a magician, too. He locked himself into his grandmother’s trunk, but had to be rescued by his mother. During bath time, he tried to hold his breath underwater for five thousand seconds, but could not do it. When he accidentally meets his hero, Houdini promises to send Victor his secrets. When the envelope finally arrives, Victor rushes off to Houdini’s house. After looking at Victor’s letter, Mrs. Houdini gives him a box because, alas, Houdini has died on that fateful Halloween day. Victor notices that the box has the letters EW under it. Victor is so disgusted by the thought that the box belonged to someone other than Houdini, that he tosses it to the back of his closet. Much later he discovers that EW stands for Erich Weiss, Houdini’s real name. Selznick, the Caldecott medal winner for The Invention of Hugo Cabret, includes fabulous black and white pencil drawings to this tender tale. There are also copies of Houdini ads, a diagram for an easy magic trick, a factual biography, and an annotated bibliography. This is a well-written fictional biography of the world’s greatest escape artist as seen through the eyes of a devoted fan.

JF  Recommended by Lillian Hecker- Pelham                  

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