I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Abracadabra by HP Newquist
Published by Henry Holt and Company (BYR) on November 17th 2015
Genres: Juvenile Nonfiction, Games & Activities, Magic
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Magic is a word we use to describe something amazing, awe-inspiring, or spectaular. Truly great magic makes us believe in things we know can't be real. In the hands of the greatest magicians, even a simple card trick can become truly wondrous.
Now, in this nonfiction narrative of magic through the ages, HP Newquist explains how the world's most famous tricks were created. From the oracles of ancient Egypt and the wizards of medieval Europe on to the exploits of Houdini and modern practitioners like Criss Angel, this book unlocks the secrets behind centuries of magic and illusion.
Fully illustrated and including step-by-step instructions for eight classic magic tricks, this book will have middle-grade readers spellbound.
When I was in second grade, I would always get books out of the library about magic and magic tricks. These books were circa 1970s printing. I only ever learned one trick which was how to make a pencil look like it was bending – so I guess you can call me an illusionist. Let’s just say I was a little kid who watched way too much TV and had an overactive imagination and desperately wanted magic to be real. So, when I learned about Abracadabra: The Story Of Magic Through The Ages by HP Newquist, a wave of nostalgia hit me. I was transported back to second grade and those days spent in the school library learning about various magic tricks. I read Abracadabra: The Story Of Magic Through The Ages for the nostalgia factor and the fact that I find the magic interesting.
HP Newquist’s Abracadabra: The Story Of Magic Through The Ages is exactly as the title describes. It is a brief little book that is about magic. It describes five different kinds of magic. There are illustrations. The history of magic starts out with Ancient Egypt and the cups and balls trick. Then we learn about an illusionist who decapitated animals and then the animals had their heads put back on and were fine. It then goes into automatons and street performers and then performers on the grand stage. There’s a whole chapter on Houdini who is actually really interesting. To be honest, I wish there had been more on Houdini. There’s bits on David Copperfield and David Blane and Chriss Angel. Between the chapters are tricks of the trade like lighting and smoke. There are also eight different magic tricks within the book.
In all, this is a fast read. This is a single sitting book. The chapters are short. There are also a lot of illustrations. I do wish that there had been more detail. The writing is very straight forward. There are no frills. This book is absolutely written for an elementary audience. I would have loved this book as a second grader. As an adult, my results were a little bit different. I think that even as a kid, I would have wanted a bit more detail. This book really skims the history in favor of including so much. I also feel like the book would have done well with some glossy pages and color illustrations. Maybe that is what the final printing will be. One good thing is that book does address the lack of female magicians.
There are illustrations on pretty much every page of Abracadabra: The Story Of Magic Through The Ages. BONUS! I love illustrations so, I was kind of really jazzed about this. The illustrations are by Joy Allen – which I did not know because I could not read the font on the inside title page where it says her name and also I am old. The illustrations in the ARC are not bad. They are not super crazy detailed. However, they really add a fun touch to the book. I liked seeing the different magicians illustrated, even though a lot of them look alike.
As for the eight magic tricks described in Abracadabra: The Story Of Magic Through The Ages by HP Newquist – well, I live in the age of youtube. So, I didn’t find this part helpful in learning how to do magic tricks. It was hard for me to translate the steps and illustrations into real life. I think this could definitely be supplemented by videos. I know that is blasphemy, but we live in an age where you can learn anything via youtube, and so, to me this was a bit useless.