Saturday, November 10, 2012

Jarrow, Gail. Harry Keller: Great American Magician.

Jarrow, Gail.     Harry Keller: Great American Magician.    Boyd's Mills/Calkins Creek    96p   $17.95      978-1-59078-865-3           ms/hs       VG-BN      

This is a biography of Harry Kellar, Harry Houdini’s mentor and idol.  Kellar is largely unknown to young readers, although the magician/illusionist was the most internationally well-known practitioner of the magical arts at the turn of the twentieth century, and even though he was the inspiration for L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz.  Jarrow follows Kellar’s career from his youth as a magician’s assistant, traveling throughout the United States during the Civil War, to his achievements as an international superstar, entertaining royalty and presidents on multiple continents. 

In addition to introducing today’s readers to a fascinating personality, Jarrow explores the science behind Kellar’s illusions, explains the nineteenth-century entertainment industry, and provides a history of magic, spiritualism, and seances.  The very readable text is accompanied by lavish illustrations in an engaging layout.  Fans of magic, sleight of hand, and illusion -- as well as escape artists -- will snap up this volume.
             -- Hilary Welliver

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