Hocus Pocus by Paul Kieve

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Hocus Pocus by Paul Kieve

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A look at the greatest magicians of all times and their most famous tricks, with a few tricks people can learn and do at home.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: October 2008
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978-0747590941

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Hocus Pocus is part biography of the greatest magicians of all time, part fictional tale of the author meeting them as they come alive from his posters, and part magic instruction manual. All the parts foster an interest in magic, and act as an inspiration to the next generation of magicians.

As the fictional Paul meets and learns from the magicians, he re-tells the amazing stories of their lives: from Harry Houdini's love and hate of Robert Houdin, to Chung Ling Soo's ultimate secret that was only revealed when his final trick went wrong. They're all fascinating people and it makes for a wonderful potted history of magic.

Paul Kieve is a magician himself, and was a consultant on the Harry Potter films (hence the foreword from Daniel Radcliffe). His passion and enthusiasm for his work comes through in every word. He wants to share his love of magic, and has gone about it perfectly. His chatty writing style sits beautifully with the enchanting subject matter.

The only criticism of Hocus Pocus is that the fictional parts detract slightly from the retellings of the magicians' illusions. If historical magicians are coming alive from posters on the wall, then it's too easy to dismiss a disappearing elephant as literary fantasy, rather than a masterful illusion that really was once performed. Although there is no other way it could have been handled, some of the impact is lost.

As well as the historical illusions, there are also about 30 tricks that the reader can try at home, both within the main text, and as an addendum. It's a good mix of simple tricks that require little or no preparation, some that require practising basic techniques such as palming, and those that require the reader to spend an hour making a prop. Although a few will take a fair bit of time to prepare, there's nothing overly complicated, requiring anything that people wouldn't have at home, or that is pitched above the heads of its young target audience. Everyone needs to know a magic trick or two, and this is a perfect place to start.

Hocus Pocus is an ideal present for any budding young magician, or even for anyone who doesn't yet know that magic fascinates them. The mix of fact and fiction also makes it a gentle transition for children who prefer factual books, but are looking for something a little more involving that they can get their teeth into. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

If you liked Hocus Pocus, read the Harry Potter books and think about how Paul Kieve could achieve the magical effects for real in the films. Shamanka by Jeanne Willis also mixes fiction with magical techniques to learn.

Buy Hocus Pocus by Paul Kieve at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hocus Pocus by Paul Kieve at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Hocus Pocus by Paul Kieve at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hocus Pocus by Paul Kieve at Amazon.com.

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