Simon Nicholson creatively combines elements of magic and mystery in his new Young Houdini series. In the first book, Young Houdini, The Magician’s Fire, readers are introduced to Harry and his best friends Billie and Arthur. This unlikely trio entertains small crowds along the streets of 19th century New York City. Clapping and coin throwing audiences continually encourage them to perform increasingly daring magic tricks.
Harry is portrayed as a young version of the famous Harry Houdini. His cohorts showcase the contrasting lifestyles of a factory worker with that of a wealthy banker’s son. Even though such diverse relationships are rare, the complexity of the situation does not distract from the story. Each of these characters has well defined personalities.
For example, Billie struggles with her impoverished situation. At one point, she remarks:
“Still, its not the sticky situations you get yourself into, it’s how you get out of them, that’s what I say.” Page 60
Arthur, on the other hand, uses his researching skills to avoid being sent away to boarding school.
The story has little resemblance to Harry Houdini’s youth. Instead, Simon uses his notable writing experience to weave together a fast paced adventure that he categorizes as an “alternative history.” The author researched basic facts surrounding life in 19th century New York City, but any hopes to learn about Harry Houdini’s younger days should not be entertained.
Central to the story is the disappearance of Harry’s magical mentor, Herbie. The three young friends work together as a team to find Herbie. As they piece together a host of clues, the drama escalates as their personal relationships falter. Miraculously, the mystery surrounding Herbie’s disappearance is eventually solved. Despite some tense moments, all escape without any injury. In the end, the three friends learn the importance of listening and working together. Their problem solving skills will engage most middle level readers who want to cheer on young characters who easily outwit the adults they encounter.
If your searching for a new chapter book mystery series, check out Simon Nicholson’s Young Houdini series.
Last week, I interviewed Simon Nicholson. Follow this link to reach that blog.
Anyone who leaves a comment on this blog by Sunday, January 4, 2015 will be eligible for a book giveaway. Simon will send the randomly selected winner a copy of Young Houdini: The Magician’s Fire.
In exchange for an honest interview and review, I was sent a copy of Young Houdini: The Magician’s Fire.
Sandra Bornstein is the author of MAY THIS BE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. It is available on Amazon. Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She is a licensed Colorado teacher who has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses. Sandra is married and has four adult sons. The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards, the 2013 USA Best Book Awards, and received an Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards.