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Harry Houdini: The Legend of the World's Greatest Escape Artist

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  86 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
This illustrated biography of Harry Houdini combines original artwork and archival artifacts—including photographs, playbills and posters, letters, and even some of Houdini’s own stage props—to bring the story of the world’s greatest escape artist to life.
Readers will learn all about Houdini’s unique rags-to-riches story, from his birth in a Hungarian ghetto to his death f
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Harry N. Abrams
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Apr 03, 2016 GoldGato rated it really liked it
He was born as Erik Weisz in a Budapest ghetto in 1874. At the age of four, he and his family moved to tiny Appleton, Wisconsin where his father hoped to succeed in the American Dream. When he was just 12 years old, he decided he would follow the U.S. Cavalry as they opened the western lands, but he eventually ended up in New York City, where his appetite for magic took hold.

 photo houdini_handcuff_poster_zpsfm72lnth.jpg

Through sheer hard work, he mastered the art of escaping from any lock, chain, or keyed contraption, which made him famou
Apr 18, 2013 CB rated it it was amazing
Chris Bancells

Weaver, J. & Lane, C. (illustrator) (2011). Harry Houdini: The legend of the world's greatest escape artist


Norman A. Sugarman Award Winner 2012


Selection tools consulted: WorldCat, School Library Journal


Harry Houdini, whose real name was Ehrich Weiss, lived a life of excitement and mystery, but also one of complication and difficulty. This book captures both through a canny combination of well-written text, historical photographs, and original illustrations.
Kathleen Ferrel
Jun 20, 2012 Kathleen Ferrel rated it really liked it
I really liked this book a lot. It is a biography of the famous magician, Harry Houdini. This non-fiction book not only discusses Houdini's magic tricks but it also reveals intimate details of his personal life which I think children ages 10 and up could relate to. Most people know Houdini was a famous magician but many don't know about his childhood and marriage to his wife, Bess. I liked that the author of this book used pictures to illustrate Houdini's illusions and stage acts. I also really ...more
If you could have lunch with anyone who ever lived, who would you pick? I would pick Harry Houdini. Houdini is one of the most famous magicians that ever lived, and I LOVE magic. Today’s book is a biography all about Harry Houdini. Who remembers what a biography is? The story this book tells is the true story of one person’s life. Along with telling about Houdini’s life, this book includes a look at lots of different photographs and illustrations that help us understand Houdini’s world even bett ...more
Lois V.
May 19, 2013 Lois V. rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Combination of colorful illustrations and archival artifacts enrich the magician's life story as he performs increasingly dangerous escape routines. In clear language, the author includes sidebars filled with more info of the time, tips from Houdini for "young magicians under eighty," and extensive back matter--making it a good choice for middle graders.
Rebecca Boliard
Apr 27, 2015 Rebecca Boliard rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
**Biographical (chapter length or collective biography)**
This biography of Harry Houdini is very accurate and well done. Harry is portrayed as more than just a magician and his story is like no other. This detail story is full of dates and events important to his life story. The pages are full of information and real photographs along side great illustrations. The detail is really important is given here. One down fall is the organization on each page is a little sloppy, but to add this much in
Mar 19, 2015 Kristen rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Twin Text: Hurry up, Houdini! By Mary Pope Osborne, 2013

I chose Hurry up Houdini as the twin text because it centers on an allusion to Houdini, allowing students to see him from a different perspective. Not as much factual information is given about Houdini of Osborne’s book, but having the background knowledge from Weaver’s book on Houdini would help students make solid connections in Hurry up Houdini.

Harry Houdini is a chronological journey through Houdini’s Life from when he was growing up u
Alexis Espinosa
Harry Houdini: The Legend of The Worlds Greatest Escape Artist: Harry Houdini has always been an interesting topic across the world and this book gives you more detail about his life and how Harry grew up, his struggles and misfortunes, and how he became the world’s greatest escape artist. There are also parts of the book that tell you how Harry did his tricks and gives more information about the stunts he pulled or background on his family and life.

Comments/observations: The theme of this biogr
I didn't know much about Harry Houdini before reading this book. Mostly that he did daring escapes and somehow I had heard when I was young and believed all this time that he died trying to do one of his escapes. Well know I know about where he was born, his name at birth, his childhood, a bit on his family, that he was married (and they did acts together!), that he traveled successfully in Europe (which is probably why I thought he was European), that he flew a plane, that he was in movies, and ...more
Tessa Joy
Feb 21, 2012 Tessa Joy rated it liked it
After moving to the United States from Hungry, a young Ehrich Weiss—who renamed himself Harry Houdini—leaves home to help his struggling family. He gains employment in New York City, but on the side Harry starts a magic show with a friend and then later with his brother, Dash. While performing on Coney Island, Harry meets Bess and they are quickly married. Together they travel the US performing Harry’s magic show routines. After several tough years, a successful promoter hires the Houdinis and a ...more
Amanda Delegram
Apr 15, 2012 Amanda Delegram rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eced-221
Summary: This picture book highlights the life and death of the greatest escape artist the world has ever seen. Harry Houdini was a remarkable man who had to grow up very fast and gained his fame and fortune by doing death defying stunts to wow his audiences.

Critique: The book is very well researched and the author includes a large list of references for you to further your information if need be. The book is very organized and shows many artifacts and pictures from Harry's world travels and li
Apr 23, 2012 Adam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eced-221
This is a story about one of the most well known escape artists known to history, Harry Houdini. Harry was a daring young man, who became famous by doing extremely dangerous stunts as a performance. As a young man Harry had to grow into a man rather quickly.

This book is done very well, there is plenty of information within the book that can give you information about Harry. there is also an extensive list of other sources that would be able to provide you with even more informat
Kimber Carnahan
Apr 23, 2012 Kimber Carnahan rated it liked it
Shelves: eced-221
Harry Houdini: The Legend of the World's Greatest Escape Artist is all about Harry Houdini and his life and history. The book tells readers all about his life, starting from the day of his birth until his death many years later.
Harry Houdini was an amazing escape artist and entertainer, and his legacy is still something that children are interested in even today. The person is presented in a way that will make readers realize he is authentic and was a real human being, even though his acts and p
Ryan Rainey
Apr 12, 2012 Ryan Rainey rated it really liked it
Shelves: eced-221
The book "Harry Houdini" by Janice Weaver was a very good book. This book explained the life of Harry. This book starts out talking about the childhood of Houdini. Then the book goes into all of the jobs that Harry had from the time before he was an escape artist to the time after he was. The life story of how Houdini became famous is also explained through out this book. Overall this was a very informative book about the journey of Harry Houdini.

This book conveyed accurate and authentic inform
Erin Dixon
Apr 23, 2012 Erin Dixon rated it really liked it
recommended by Orbis Pictus

SUMMARY: Harry Houdini: The Legend of the World's Greatest Escape Artist by Janice Weaver helps to bring Harry Houdini to life. It tells the entire story of Harry Houdini, from the day he was born to the days after his death.
CRITIQUE: I believe that Houdini is someone that children would find interesting. Most children love magic, and reading about an escape artist would be very entrancing. The information is presented in a way that the reader can find Houdini to be
This is an EXCELLENT biography of Harry Houdini! It details his early life emigrating from Hungary to the United States, his childhood in Appleton, WI and his subsequent decision to enter the world of show business as a magician, entertainer and escape artist.

The text is clear and concise, easily accessible to children and adults alike. His transformation from penniless immigrant to amazing showman and extraordinary escape artist is vivid and engrossing.

Learning about the way in which he develop
Adam Bakken
Dec 01, 2013 Adam Bakken rated it it was amazing
I feel this book would best be used in a classroom of 10 year olds and up. Prior to reading this book, I will admit that I did not know much about the life of Harry Houdini, aside from him arguably being the world’s greatest escape artist. After reading this book, I now know quite a lot about his life and accomplishments, and it was told in a very pleasant way. The book tells his life in chronological order, documenting his rise from poverty in Budapest (which was the only country at the time to ...more
Mackenzie Beals
May 29, 2014 Mackenzie Beals rated it really liked it
Shelves: ed-689
Janice Weaver tells the life story of the famous Harry Houdini beginning with his childhood. We learn how he grew up poor and moved away to earn money for his family. Harry's father dies and he begins reading magic books and performing anywhere he could to support his mother. The reader learns of Harry's famous trick where he jumps into the Detroit River handcuffed and frees himself in minutes. This is a fascinating book, especially for readers interested in magic.
Julie King
Feb 17, 2014 Julie King rated it it was amazing
I read this book aloud with my children and we loved learning how Harry did so many of his tricks. It was interesting to hear how his highly-educated father struggled to support the family and how Harry ran away at the age of 12 to seek out his fortune and no longer be another mouth to feed for his poverty-stricken family. The photographs and posters were fascinating and we truly enjoyed reading this biography.
Abdirisak Aden
Nov 16, 2015 Abdirisak Aden rated it liked it
The book was kinda good the plot fit nicely in the to the story every thing was good ,seriously you had to throw in a sad ending . The author did a good job of having what happened in what chapter.
I would recommend this book to older kids because the biography would seem boring to younger kids.
Oct 19, 2012 Leslie rated it it was amazing
We follow Harry from Budapest to Wisconsin and then on his " grand adventure" which lead to San Francisco and on to Europe where his creativity, foolishness and intelligence created a magician like no other. A comprehensive biography which includes a variety of sidebars reflecting life during Houdini's time.

A very readable recount of Houdini's life experiences each one more interesting than the previous. Quotes from Houdini add authenticity to each event. Features include a table of contents, r
Mar 04, 2013 Daniela rated it really liked it
The legend of Harry Houdini lives on in this visually stunning children’s book. Filled with unusual and interesting facts, author Janice Weaver provides a comprehensive, accessible account of the majestic magician beginning with his earliest years.

My Thoughts:
This is a wonderfully fast paced glimpse into the amazing, adventurous life of Houdini. Houdini was truly an artist and a highly skilled performer of his time. His repertoire included some of the most thrilling and dangerous acts, f
Nov 07, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it
Shelves: ncbla
Although he's been dead for almost a century, escape artist Harry Houdini continues to fascinate many of us. This book provides details about Harry's youth, his early days as a magician, and his career as the consummate showman. Filled with colorful original illustrations as well as large-sized photographs, playbills, posters, letters, and reproductions of Houdini's stage props, it will surely prompt even more interest in the man and his methods. The author makes sure to include details about hi ...more
Feb 22, 2015 Meredith rated it it was amazing
What an interesting man. He had passion, that is for sure. A little crazy...maybe.
Jun 20, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it
Audience: 3rd-5th graders who like biographies, magic, life in the early 1900s, or stories about underdogs

Appeal: It has gorgeous real-life pictures and copies of actual posters for Houdini's act. It gives an extremely interesting overview of Houdini’s personal and professional life with vivid imagery and beautiful illustrations. It also has great side notes throughout the book about life in the late 1800s and early 1900s, child labor, and the secrets behind Houdini's tricks.

NCTE Orbis Pictus Aw
Oct 11, 2012 Jess rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those new to Houdini
Recommended to Jess by: New biography at school
Solid but not amazing Houdini biography.

No problems or comments, so here's a couple of interesting facts:
- Harry & Bess met at Coney Island and married three weeks later
- Harry fell into the practice of asking local police to lock him up in their most secure cuffs & cells as a marketing/publicity stunt. It worked, as it should since he escaped each and every time, including the time he asked the director of Scotland Yard to treat him like a most wanted criminal--seconds into his lockup
Debra Wake
Sep 08, 2012 Debra Wake rated it did not like it
Audience - 8 years and above, children interested in magic, people interested in history,

Appeal - This book tells about the life of Harry Houdini. It also offers advice and tricks for budding magicians. There are lots of photos and other pictures in the book. It has a list of other books and websites to go to for more information.

Honors - 2012 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children Recommended Book
Audience: This book would be good for students in 4th grade and higher.
Appeal: It’s a very interesting book, especially if you are interested in Harry Houdini or magicians. This book has more text than pictures which is why I put a higher grade level.

Recommended Book in NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children
Monica Johnson
Apr 11, 2012 Monica Johnson rated it it was amazing
Great read for Intermediate (I) age readers. This autobiography about Houdini will tell the details of his rags to riches story. Young readers will enjoy reading about the world's greatest escape artist as it comes to life in this book. Great illustrations with clear and easy reading. I'm sure that is will be a hit with adults too!
Desiree Herrera
May 01, 2013 Desiree Herrera rated it it was ok
I really did not enjoy this book so much. I don't know if it was because the colors were so plain, or if it was the artwork. I do find the subject to be interesting however this book did not catch my attention at all. I think the author did do a great deal of research to make this book, in my opinion how ever I did not enjoy it at all.
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JANICE WEAVER is a highly respected editor and the author of several acclaimed works of nonfiction for young people. Building America and From Head to Toe: Bound Feet, Bathing Suits, and Other Bizarre and Beautiful Things were each named Notable Books by the International Reading Association. From Head to Toe was also a finalist for both the Rocky Mountain Book Award and the Ontario Library Associ ...more
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