A Bit of Magic

My Mom Person has a boy who as a little boy was fascinated with a magician and escape artist named Harry Houdini. This little Houdini wannabe was often to be found tied up somewhere trying to escape his bonds. Once he was even discovered in the swimming pool with some chains! Crazy boy!! Luckily the Mom Person was well aware of his propensity for getting himself in a fix and kept a sharp eye on him!

Well, we recently discovered a GREAT book by Mr Brian Selznick about the GREAT Houdini. The Mom Person happens to be crazy about Mr Selznick so she scooped it right up and brought it home for a good read. And a good read it is!! That Mr Selznick is magic! Now, here’s some more serendipitous magic — The very next day, we received in the mail a movie to watch. The movie was Hugo! This is a movie based on another of Mr Selznick’s books – The Invention of Hugo Cabret! The week turned into a celebration of Mr Brian Selznick!

And I’m here to share the celebration with you!! You might notice that I locked Electra in THE CAGE to see how clever she might be. My Mom Person was pleased to find that she is no Houdini.

IMG_1694and ABRACADABRA!!!!!!
The Houdini Box
by Brian Selznick
published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 1991

A CURIOUS STORY
OF MAGIC
AND
ESCAPOLOGY
as performed by
Harry Houdini and a
little boy named Victor,
with special appearances
by Victor’s Mother, Aunt
Harriet, and the lovely
Mrs. Houdini.

The story begins with a bit of history about Mr Houdini, a magician extraordinaire who was famous for his daring escapes from all sorts of unbelievable situations. Then we meet Victor, who is ten years old and wants to be a magician, too. He tries to escape from locked trunks and walk through walls and perform magic tricks just like his hero. With no success. Then! One day he has a chance encounter with the GREAT MAN and Mr Houdini promises to write him a letter.

IMG_1695After a long, impatient wait, a letter arrives for Victor and he is asked to come to Mr Houdini’s house. He goes there on Halloween night only to find that Mr Houdini has died just that day!!! But Mrs Houdini gives Victor a box. A small, locked box. Does this box hold all of Mr Houdini’s secrets? Will Victor now be able to become the magician he longs to be? Ahhhhh – you’ll have to read the book to find out!

At the end of the book there is a lot of back story material about Mr Houdini and about Mr Selznick’s journey in writing this book. He even includes instructions for a magic trick you can learn yourself!! And a list of resources for further reading.

IMG_1697The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a very similar book. It’s another tale about magic – and clocks and automatons and the history of the movie industry. It was published in 2007 and won the Caldecott Medal Award in 2008. It is a very BIG book. 526 pages! But many of the pages are double spread illustrations that compel you forward much like a flip book or a movie. There are nearly 300 pages of pictures! In 2011 Martin Scorsese made a movie adapted from Mr Selznick’s book. The movie is HUGO. It won 5 Academy Awards and lots of other awards. It was the book on the big screen! Absolutely incredible!! See the movie! Read the book! It will all make you want to go out and watch some silent movies!

IMG_1699Mr Selznick illustrated another Caldecott Honor book – The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins. Another incredible historical fiction book written by Barbara Kerley.

Mr Selznick writes about magic – Mr Houdini was a magician and illusionist, Georges Melies, from the Hugo Cabret book, was a magician of the cinema – creating dreams. Mr Selznick himself creates magic with pen and paper.

I will leave you with an interview with Mr Selznick discussing a musical play of The Houdini Box and also talking about the movie Hugo – enjoy!

Now go forth and find some magic in your life!
Your library friend
Rhythm
Copy of img311

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27 thoughts on “A Bit of Magic

  1. Thanks for sharing. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is one of our all-time favorites. It spurred our interest in automata. It is fascinating to google the antique figures. We’ll have to check out his Houdini book. It sounds wonderful.

    Michelle

  2. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ What a relief; Electra is no Houdini!
    Lovely post, Rhythm! My favourite magicians are/were Siegfried and Roy, I once saw them in Las Vegas. Pure magic!

  3. Oh, Rhythm, I LOVE Hugo Cabret! I couldn’t wait for the movie to come out, too (rare for me these days ’cause I’m usually disappointed), and although it was aesthetically breathtaking, unlike you, I felt let down ’cause they left out parts from the book that were emotionally profound *sigh* The illustrations and story are so beautifully executed, it totally deserved the Caldecott πŸ™‚

    • I don’t watch many movies and don’t know a lot about them, but for my eyes, the HUGO movie was a superb representation of the book. And I don’t know much about all the book awards, but I agree that the Caldecott was well deserved!! πŸ™‚

  4. AWESOME!!! Hugo was a great movie, The Invention of Hugo Cabret – an even greater book, Wonderstruck was also great, and now Houdini! WOOO!!! And, by the way, Rhythm, I LOVE your fabulous magician’s assistant! πŸ˜‰

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