July 11 Birthday: Harry Kellar. THE AMAZING HARRY KELLAR: GREAT AMERICAN MAGICIAN

Harry Keller, Magician
July 11, 1849 – March 3, 1922

THE AMAZING HARRY KELLAR: GREAT AMERICAN MAGICIAN (Boyds Mills Press, 2012) by Gail Jarrow.

 School Library Journal:
Gr 5–8—Though many people today have
never heard of him, Kellar was once America’s favorite magician and a
friend and mentor to Harry Houdini. Born to German immigrants as
Heinrich Keller, he left home early and began work as a magician’s
assistant. After many years traveling the world, the hardworking yet
congenial Kellar became so famous that he performed for President Teddy
Roosevelt’s children, and many readers of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
(published in 1900 at the height of his popularity) felt that the wizard
was modeled on him. Jarrow includes just the right mix of biographical
information, anecdotes, and descriptions of the performer’s illusions.
Frequent sidebars provide context for historical events, people, and
magic terminology mentioned in the text. Heavily illustrated with a
mixture of archival photos; drawings; and stunning, full-color
reproductions of the posters advertising Kellar’s shows, this book draws
readers in. Ample back matter, including a time line, notes, and a list
of sources for further information shows the depth of the author’s
research. An excellent example of nonfiction that is readable, visually
appealing, and well researched.—Jackie Partch, Multnomah County Library,
Portland, OR

March 24 Birthday: Houdini: World’s Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King

Harry Houdini, magician
Mar. 24, 1874-Oct. 31, 1926

Houdini: World’s Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2005)

Houdini sawed people in half and wrapped himself in chains—all in the name of magic. This biography offers a look inside his life, his challenges and his performances.

Visit the PBS American Experience site about Houdini, The Man Behind the Myth for a timeline, gallery, teacher’s guide and special features.

March 24 Birthday: The Secret of the Great Houdini

 Houdini, magician
Mar. 24, 1874-Oct. 31, 1926

The Secret of the Great Houdini by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Leonid Gore (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2002).

A little boy is mesmerized as he watches to see if Houdini can escape from a seemingly impossible bind. A fictionalized account of what it might have been like watching the great escape artist.

The Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA is dedicated solely to Harry Houdini. There’s also a Harry Houdini website with lots of extras.

March 24 Birthday: A Picture Book of Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini, magician
Mar. 24, 1874-Oct. 31, 1926

A Picture Book of Harry Houdini by David A. Adler, illustrated by Matt Collins (Holiday House, 2009).

Harry Houdini lived a glamorous life as a magician, mesmerizing fans with his death-defying escapes but he came from a very modest background. He helped his family make ends meet by shining shoes. A look at the boy who became one of the world’s greatest escape artists. Back matter contains extensive source notes and recommended websites.