Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Houdini Box

The Houdini Box

Brian Selznick
For ages 7 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2001   ISBN: 0689844514

Victor, like so many ten-year-old boys, is fascinated by Harry Houdini’s work. He reads that the great magician can get out of a sealed container in less than twenty seconds. And so Victor locks himself inside his grandmother’s trunk. Unfortunately, unlike Houdini, Victor has no idea how to get himself out, and his mother has to rescue him. This is, naturally, very upsetting.

Next Victor tries to hold his breath for a long time. Houdini can hold his breath for five thousand seconds. Victor tries to do the same in the bathtub and he doesn’t even come close.

Then one day Victor has the great good fortune to see Harry Houdini at the train station. Victor runs over to see his hero and Harry Houdini promises to write to him. Victor hopes that he will finally find out how Harry Houdini does at least some of his famous tricks.

In this remarkable book, Brian Selznick explores the enticing world of magic, the life of the great Harry Houdini, and the power that lies within a dream that will not die. He skillfully weaves together fact and fiction to create a compelling and very satisfying story.

At the end of the story, Brian Selznick goes on to give his readers a biography of Harry Houdini and a very personal narrative in which he describes why and how he wrote and illustrated this book.