Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Houdini: The Handcuff King

Houdini: The Handcuff King

Jason Lutes, Nick Bertozzi
Graphic Novel
For ages 12 and up
Hyperion Book CH, 2007   ISBN: 978-0786839025

It is May in 1908 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harry Houdini is in town and he is not only going to perform in one of the local theatres, but before that he is going to do a truly astonishing trick. The plan is that he will have one of the local police officers handcuff his hands behind his back and shackle his legs together. Then Harry will jump off one of the local bridges and, hopefully free himself from the handcuffs before he drowns in the slightly-above-freezing water. Harry hopes that pulling off this stunt will show the world that he is indeed the best magician around and they will want to see him perform in the theatre all the more.

On the day of the handcuff trick, Harry goes to the bridge to see what he is up against. He even – against the wishes of the policeman present – jumps off the bridge so that he knows what to expect later that day. He then attends a breakfast at his hotel where he talks to the press. One reporter greatly angers him with his comments and it takes Harry's wife Bess a good while to calm down her volatile husband. He hates it when someone suggests that he his anything but the best magician in the world.

Then the time comes for Harry to go to the bridge. When he gets there he talks to his audience, which is large, and then he prepares himself for the ordeal to come. He never looses his calm and plays up to the crowd, quickly earning their support. Harry is always the consummate showman.

Just in time his wife Bess arrives and gives him a kiss – a kiss which is more than it seems. The Harry jumps.

In this unique cartoon creation the authors tells a gripping story about one of Harry Houdini's remarkable escapist feats. Through Harry's words, as well as his actions, readers will come to understand what Harry Houdini was like. Incredibly confident and rather arrogant, he knew what he wanted and he did not waver from getting what he was looking for. He also loved his wife dearly and he wanted his fans to like and admire him.

Readers will learn even more about Harry and his achievements from the introduction, written by Glen David Gold, and from the notes at the back of the book which give the reader background details about the events shown on twelve of the pages in the story.