The Amazing Harry Kellar

Great American Magician
The Amazing Harry Kellar: Great American Magician. 96p. bibliog. chron. further reading. illus. index. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek. June 2012. RTE $17.95. ISBN 978-1-59078-865-3. LC 2011940465.
RedReviewStarGr 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
Boldly colored publicity posters, archival photographs, and sidebars lend authenticity to the period and supplement this thorough biography of the lesser-known magician who mentored and befriended Harry Houdini. The emphasis on Kellar's hard work, determination, and humility present a memorable figure in American entertainment history. Magic fans will particularly enjoy the detailed descriptions of tricks and illusions. Timeline. Bib., ind.

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