Saturday, July 15, 2023

Today's read... A Miscellany of Mischief and Magic by Tom Adams

I'm always on the look-out for interesting, nonfiction reads for kids. It was always my favorite section of the library and the one my own kids head to first...even the teens. When I saw today's read, the memory of creating a magic show popped into my head. I do need to admit, though, that my own kids have never found magic tricks interesting or wanted to fool people. Now, that I think about it, I wonder why not (but I'm not complaining, either). 

Anyway, this one has a lively cover and promises history and more. Plus, it isn't just about magic but should includ real life situations where foolery was used in other circumstances. But let's just take a peek and see how it goes, shall we?

Discover history's best hoaxes, hijinks, and illusions
by Tom Adams
Illustrated by Jasmine Floyd
Wide Eyed Editions
Middle Grade Nonfiction
64 pages 
ages 8 to 12


Welcome all rascals and tricksters to this marvellous miscellany of mischief and magic!

This playful book explores the world of deception and trickery – both the good and the bad.
Learn the secrets of infamous magic illusions and tricks and discover the stories of some of history’s most notorious hoaxes, pranks, and cons . While some are great fun, others contain a serious lesson . . . after all, understanding scams of the past can help protect you in the future.

Meet infamous pranksters  such as Marcel Duchamp  (the French artist who pranked the art world), renowned illusionists and escape artists such as Adelaide Hermann (one of the first female magicians), and cunning con-artists  such as George C. Parker (the American who "sold" the Statue of Liberty). 

The themed spreads explore a range of topics such as made-up monsters, alien conspiracies, doctored photos , disguises and pseudonyms , April Fool's Day pranks, and much more.
If you’re feeling mischievous, you can even follow the steps and tips spaced throughout the book to try your hand at some pranks and magic tricks of your own! But keep your wits about you, because fake hoaxes are included within the pages for eagle-eyed readers to try to spot!
Perfect for readers young and old who delight in a bit of mischief. 


A little showmanship weaves between information and historical facts to show that magic and foolery hasn't only been used on stage.

While there are how-to books on magic, pranks, and other tricks for kids to try themselves, this read dives more into the history, information, and explanation behind illusions and deception. The first chapter sets the tone nicely as it takes a peek at some classic magic tricks performed on stage (sawing a lady in half, rabbit out of the hat, etc). From here, it swings into famous magicians, and then, takes a real life turn on illusions. While dates, places and names fall, it's not dry or boring. Not only were the explanations behind the classic tricks interesting, but more than a few of the historical moments were eye-opening. 

The illustrations are bright, bold, and hold energetic flair. Not only do they keep the atmosphere lighter but offer visual assistance with some of the information in the text. The text is well suited for the middle grade audience and is built in and around the illustrations to keep it fun.

There are several sections sprinkled between the chapters, which invite readers to try their own magic tricks, pranks or deceptions. These span from simple math trickery to more hands on pranks. Some of these are original and most are easy enough for anyone to do.

Note: I do need to point out that one prank instructs readers to place a little flour into the end of their siblings instrument (flute, trumpet, etc). As a musician parent with these expensive items used by my own children, I can't say enough how bad an idea it is to make this suggestion to kids. 

Outside of this, though, it's a well done book, which is packed full of fun information.

No comments: