Marvelous Magicians

Thames & Hudson. Sept. 2020. 48p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9780500652213.
Gr 1-3–Part collective biography and part how-to guide, this title highlights eight groundbreaking magicians—from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and races—during the “Golden Age of Magic.” Readers may recognize Houdini’s familiar name but other performers featured may be lesser known; such as Richard Potter, one of the first successful African American magicians, and Adelaide Herrmann, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Magic.” Accompanying each profile is a description of the magician’s most famous trick. The truth behind these illusions is revealed in the “Insider Secrets” box, which are either printed upside down or perpendicular to the regular text. These page sections along with foldouts and several vertically oriented pages make reading this book a tactile experience. The whimsical, vintage-styled illustrations are engaging, and the choice to frame illustrations within a curtained stage complement the dramatic text. Following the profiles are themed spreads with advice on becoming a magician and other related topics. Although packed with interesting information, no sources are cited.
VERDICT While the charming illustrations make this an appealing introduction to the history of magical entertainment and its pioneering illusionists, the absence of cited research, an author’s note, or back matter is of concern.

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