I was nervous about this week’s storytime, because I had advertised it on our Summer Learning Program fliers as a chance to learn a simple magic trick. I’m really no good at magic tricks. I’m not good with puppets either, or those great big picture books that make me feel like an exceptionally clumsy Lilliputian. I even struggle with flannel boards, because the pieces fall off, or a toddler wanders off with them just as I’m getting to the good part. But I’m really no good at magic tricks, and I struggled to find one that was easy enough to teach to kids of a wide range of ages, and not too hard or expensive to make.
But I ended up having the best time at this storytime, mostly because it was a wonderful group of families, both old and new, and they were all so interactive and engaged. Plus the trick went off okay too. Here’s what we read:
Georgie and the Magician by Robert Bright (Amazon.com link)
Georgie was one of my favorite books as a kid, and I was surprised to find out many years later that there are actually several books about the friendly little ghost, his friends Miss Oliver (the owl) and Herman (the cat), and Mr. and Mrs. Whittaker. In this story, the Whittaker’s barn burns down, leaving the harmless old cow homeless, and the town decides to hold a benefit to help pay for a new one. Mr. Whittaker offers to do magic tricks, but he doesn’t really know how (kind of like me). So Georgie and his friends secretly help out, surprising Mr. Whittaker, and making the benefit a huge success. This is an older book, and our copy wasn’t in great shape, but it held the kids’ interest, and they laughed when it got to the magic show.
The Magic Rabbit by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Amazon.com link)
When I first brought this book home from the library, my daughter would demand to hear it over and over. I love it too. Ray the Magician and his rabbit assistant Bunny are best friends who do a magic act together. But one day, just as Ray is pulling Bunny out of his hat, another performer crashes into him, and his dog chases Bunny into a busy street. Luckily, Bunny makes it to safety, but finds himself lost and alone in the park, until he finds a trail of gold stars that lead right to his hat in the subway station. The kids loved the part where Ray unsuspectingly puts the hat (with Bunny inside) on top of his head. This is a sweet story, with lovely, mostly black-and-white illustrations.
Milo’s Hat Trick by Jon Agee (Amazon.com link)
This one is always fun to read. Milo the Magician, hoping to catch a rabbit for his hat trick, catches a bear instead. To his surprise, the bear knows how to jump in and out of hats. He agrees to help Milo with his act, but, when Milo grabs the wrong hat by mistake, the bear winds up popping out of the hat in the middle of a restaurant. A wacky, funny story that got lots of laughs from both kids and parents.
Poof! by John O’Brien (Amazon.com link)
This was a nice, short book to end with. A wizard and his wife are arguing about whose turn it is to take care of their crying baby, until the wizard waves his wand and, “Poof!” turns the baby into a cat. His wife waves her wand and, “Poof!” turns the cat into a dog. The magical battle continues until both wizards and baby all end up as ducks living “quackily ever after.” The kids enjoyed joining in on the repeated, “Poof!’s”
I actually wrote this song for the storytime because I was having such a hard time finding a song about magic. I was really nervous about performing it, because, even though I didn’t tell anyone I had written it, I was still vaguely worried that people might start throwing juice boxes or Cheerios, and yelling, “That’s not a real song!” Luckily, that didn’t happen (or maybe they were short on ammo). Anyway, here’s the song (click on the triangle to hear how it sounds). If I ever work up the nerve to sing it again, I’d like to ask the kids for suggestions for magic words and things they would like to do if they had a magic wand, and adapt the song accordingly. (I did ask my storytime group that question, and many of them said they’d like to make themselves invisible).
Once I found a magic wand (C G)
Out floating in a stream. (F C)
I waved it at my dinner plate, (C G)
And my beets became ice cream! (F G C)
I said, “Abracadabra! (C G)
Alakazaam! (F G)
Abracadabra!” (C G)
And my peas turned into jam. (F G C)
So then I brought my magic wand
To school with me one day.
When Teacher said, “It’s time to work.”
I said, “I’d rather play.”
I said, “Abracadabra!
Hocus pocus!” too.
And my class was at the zoo!
Being taught by a kangaroo.
So if you find a magic wand
Out floating in a stream.
I hope that it will bring to you
Whatever you may dream.
You’ll say, “Abracadabra!
Presto chango!” too.
Many things will come to you.
Like a treehouse with a view,
And a unicorn or two,
And a chocolate mansion too.
May your every dream come true.
Little Bunny Foo Foo
Little Bunny Foo-Foo is an old standard of mine, to the point that my boss at my previous library job once gave me a Bunny Foo-Foo shirt. The kids always love it, and it’s what I call an “uppy-downy,” meaning that it gives them a chance to move around and work off some energy. The version I do is like the one in this YouTube video by Hannah Heller: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6xKM-H2awE . (I have the kids hop on the “hopping through the forest line”).
CRAFT: “Magic” Magic Wands
I got this idea from DebbieGonzales.com: http://www.debbiegonzales.com/blog/?currentPage=38. I was worried that it might be too obvious a trick, but when I waved the wand over the audience at the end, the kids seemed genuinely impressed. It’s basically a wand made of black and white construction paper. You stick a straight pin or paper clip (I used a paper clip to be safer), into the middle of the wand and hold the end of it between your fingers. If you hold your hand so the audience can’t see the pin, it looks like the wand is floating in mid-air. Then you can quickly pull the pin out to let your audience inspect the wand.
I had the kids make their own wands by rolling up a sheet of black construction paper (I put out chopsticks to roll the paper around, although not everyone used them). They taped or glued the rolls together, then glued small rectangles of white paper on each end for the tips. Once the wands were made, I used a thumbtack to poke a hole in the back of each one, and showed the kids how to insert the straightened paper clip into the hole and hold it to create the illusion that the wand was floating.
I had a second magic trick, involving a dollar bill and two paper clips (if you set it up right, the clips hook together when you open the bill), but this one ended up being a bit too difficult. This was the trick, in case you’re curious: http://www.wikihow.com/Connect-Two-Paper-Clips-without-Touching-Them I had the kids make their own bills out of green paper and help them put the paper clips on, but it usually took a few tries to get the trick to work.
OTHER BOOKS ABOUT MAGIC:
The Wizard, the Fairy and the Magic Chicken by Helen Lester; illustrated by Lynn Munsinger (Amazon.com link)
A delightfully silly book about three magical rivals. Each one brags that he or she is the best, and in the process they create a gang of monsters that they have to work together in order to fight. I love Lester and Munsinger’s collaborations, which include Hooray for Wodney Wat and A Porcupine Named Fluffy.
Simple Magic Tricks: Easy to Learn Magic Tricks with Everyday Objects by Jon Allen (Amazon.com link)
This is one of the most user-friendly magic books I’ve come across. It includes 70 fairly easy tricks you can do with rubber bands, rope, cards, and other common household objects.
What are your favorite books about magic?