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The Houdini Box
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About the Author

Brian Selznick is the author and illustrator of the bestselling The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal and was a National Book Award finalist. He is also the illustrator of many books for children, including Frindle and Lunch Money by Andrew Clements, as well as the Doll People trilogy by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, and The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley, which was a Caldecott Honor Book. Mr. Selznick divides his time between Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California. Brian Selznick is the author and illustrator of the bestselling The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal and was a National Book Award finalist. He is also the illustrator of many books for children, including Frindle and Lunch Money by Andrew Clements, as well as the Doll People trilogy by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, and The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley, which was a Caldecott Honor Book. Mr. Selznick divides his time between Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California.

Reviews

In his first book for children, Selznick presents the compelling story of Harry Houdini, the magician who amazed the world with his great escapes. While Houdini circles the globe performing one incredible stunt after another, Victor, a young devotee, goes through his own rigorous magician's training at home--locking himself in closets, holding his breath under water, walking into walls. This counterpoint is a witty, effective device, and Selznick's deadpan text makes the most of it. It seems that Victor will never become a magician, until one day, after a chance encounter with his hero, he receives a special box that just might contain the secrets of Houdini's success. In his arresting, informative blend of fact and fiction, Selznick splendidly captures the sense of wonder that surrounded Houdini. Equally impressive are his evocative drawings; by turns droll, touching and downright silly, they bring added vitality to a captivating book. More than anything, however, this ambitious work teaches the importance of faith and the ability to believe in the impossible. Ages 6-11. (Apr.)

"In his arresting, informative blend of fact and fiction, Selznick splendidly captures the sense of wonder surrounding Houdini." -- Publishers Weekly
"Crosshatched pencil drawings expertly capture the story's droller moments, as well as Victor's changing expressions....This brief story has an appeal beyond its reading level." -- School Library Journal
"Selznick illustrates his first book with vigorous, carefully composed black-and-white drawings; his faces express emotion with subtlety and quiet humor. The offbeat story is smoothly told...." -- Kirkus Reviews

Gr 2-5-- Ten-year-old Victor has no success emulating his hero, Harry Houdini; no matter how hard or often he tries, he just can't escape from a locked trunk, or hold his breath underwater for 5000 seconds, or run through walls. Then he meets the magician himself in a crowded train station, and some time later receives a mysterious locked box engraved with the initials ``E. W.'' Victor can't imagine who E. W. is and, disappointed, puts the box away. Years later, after Victor grows up and has a son of his own, he learns that Houdini's real name was Ehrich Weiss; he rushes home, opens the box, and that night, while his wife and child lie asleep, he locks himself in the trunk--and escapes in less than 20 seconds. Crosshatched pencil drawings expertly capture the story's droller moments, as well as Victor's changing expressions; details of dress and furnishings, plus dramatic posters on the endpapers, give this a period look and, appropriately, a slightly sentimental flavor. A capsule biography of Houdini is appended. This brief story has an appeal beyond its reading level. --John Peters, New York Public Library

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