Why We Chose This Book: Harry and the Highwire

Harry Houdini is one of the most famous magicians in history, but perhaps less well known are his beginnings as a Jewish-American immigrant child looking to thrill audiences as a tightrope walker. With Harry and the Highwire, author Julie Carpenter and illustrator Laura Catalán have shined a spotlight on this part of Houdini’s life and made some magic of their own.

Before reading a word, readers will notice something that sets this unconventional book apart from most. Instead of standard pages, the entire book unfolds and expands like an accordion. On one side, readers follow exciting moments of Harry’s childhood, threaded together by one continuous highwire. It’s the inspiring story of young Harry (born Ehrich Weiss), whose rabbi father brought the family from Hungary to America in search of a better life. They couldn’t have predicted that Harry would go on to embody inner strength and perseverance by refusing to let bumps and bruises, altitude, or even gravity itself keep him down.

Flip the whole book over and your family can find fascinating facts and stories about Houdini, including a beautifully illustrated timeline of his whole life and career. The kid in everyone will also love reading descriptions of some of his mind-blowing feats, even including some hints and best guesses about the secret behind a few.