by Sid Fleischman
First sentence: “I have been a fiction writer by choice and instinct for a long professional life.”
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Content: There are some risque photos (Houdini did a lot of his tricks in the nude for honesty’s sake) and some intense moments. It would be in the middle reader biography section of the bookstore, if we had it.
I’ll be honest: while I enjoy illusions, I’m not obsessed with it, and while I knew who Houdini was, I really didn’t know much about his life or his magic tricks. So, when my class hit a biography section and this was on the list, I figured why not read a kids’ biography on Houdini.
(First: are kids still interested in Houdini? Hubby saw this on my nightstand and remarked “I adored Houdini as a kid.” Does that still happen?)
I learned that Houdini was a workaholic, a bit of a jerk, and definitely competitive. He’d put himself in pretty much any situation to prove that he could do whatever it was that was put before him (challenges were his favorite thing!) regardless of personal safety. Fleischman, a fellow Jew and magician, is incredibly enthusiastic about Houdini (even though he keeps the actual secrets of how Houdini performed his tricks, well, secret) and that comes through in the biography. I don’t know if it’s something I’d refer kids to in order to do research on Houdini (though maybe: Fleischman does work to debunk some of the myths surrounding Houdini, ones that Houdini himself perpetuated), but it does make for entertaining reading.
One thought on “Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini”
Not a comment about the book, but about Sid. Shortly after I started trying to write kidlit, I went to an SCBWI conference in Iowa and he was one of the presenters. During the autograph session, he was so sweet. Very gracious. I would have loved to adopt him into my family. If I remember correctly, this was shortly after this book came out.