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Harry and the High Wire (Paperback)

Houdini's First Amazing Act

Children's Books Colour Books

By Julie Carpenter, Illustrations by Laura Catalan
Imprint: Green Bean Books
Pages: 40
Illustrations: 50 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781784388362
Published: 27th February 2024

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‘Julie Carpenter’s inspiring story of Houdini shows how, like him, we can open the locks and dance on the high wire. It’s only a matter of practice. And believing in yourself.’ — Eric Kimmel

As a young boy of seven, Harry is desperate to do something incredible - but what? A visit to the circus provides the answer when he sees the daring tightrope walker thrilling the audience. From that moment on, all Harry wants to do is to walk the tightrope. But how?

His first try, on the family clothesline, ends in disaster but Harry's not about to give up yet. He starts practising in his every spare moment and in every location he can think of. Will he get to the other side or will he fall? (And will his pet chicken Banjoe be able to keep up?)

An inspiring tale about one of history’s most fascinating figures, Harry and the High-wire is essential reading for children, teaching them about the importance of ambition, hard work and, crucially, of believing in yourself, even when things seem impossible.

The reverse side of this fun, fully fold-out book includes a biography and illustrated timeline of Houdini's life, along with a focus on three of his most famous tricks (and hints on how he did them).

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Most adults know about the great magician Harry Houdini. But how did he get his start? Julie Carpenters clever biography picture book relates how Houdini fell in love with the idea of performing at the age of seven, when he saw a highwire act at the circus. He practiced over and over through the seasons until he could actually master the art. The illustrations by Laura Catalan are simple, bright and inviting. Each picture sits side by side on a long fold out. Harry starts practicing on a clothesline which becomes a rope and eventually a wire and this tightrope meanders in one continuous line across the panels tying the illustrations together. This sweet story gives us a glimpse at the man's early childhood and his first experience as a performer. But the story is actually more about the theme, hard work and perseverance will help lead to success. The flip side of the fold out contains a time line about Houdini's life and explanations of some of his most famous tricks. I have read a lot of children's biographies and this is one of the most charming that I have come across.

NetGalley, Julie Ditton

'Picture book biography Harry and The High Wire takes place during Houdini’s childhood, when he became enthralled with a tightrope walking act at the circus. For an ordinary boy, this taste of the extraordinary sparked his first interest in the performative arts... The fully fold-out book is cleverly laid out so that the art continues on the pages that eventually lay out to 4 meters wide (that’s 157.48 inches to us Americans). The art flows to these wider spreads with a lamp wire becoming a clothesline, flowing into a tree and then a tightrope. The engaging drawings feature different points of view, including an aerial shot looking down at Harry on the high-wire. Great attention to detail gives the art a welcoming, familiar feel. One side of the fold-out is the story of Harry learning to walk the high wire; the other side offers a peek into some of his amazing tricks, a timeline, and a biography.’

Shanna Silva, Sydney Taylor Schmooze.com

A very pleasant look at the young life of Harry Houdini, clearly showing him as a young Jewish lad without labouring the fact, and having him besotted by the wire-walker that headlined his first trip to the circus. Pages flip out and fold out from behind each other and expand and extend to have a great single stretch of material – with one kind of rope or wire or something seen across each and every one, showing Harry's path to success, where we finally see a top-down view of him managing the feat himself. The final beat shows said rope entangling the globe in Harry's glory, which is further itemised on the reverse of all this by the non-fiction side of things – a timeline of the man, a look at some of his more noted tricks, and so on. All told it's an homage to practice and perseverance as much as a biography – so a decent item all round. A strong four stars.

NetGalley, John Lloyd

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

How could I not love a simple but well planned and beautifully illustrated fun book about Harry Houdini?! I think it is marvelous and plan to send a copy to family who no longer live in Wisconsin.
The illustrations by Laura Catalan are clear, imaginative, colorful, and delightful.
Well suited for reading WITH someone of any age including ESL, and great for gifting to anyone, but especially to a school or your local public library!

NetGalley, Jan Tangen

This is a fun, information packed book that talks about Harry Houdini's life and the tricks he performed.

NetGalley, Courtney Castleberry

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I did not know how hard Harry worked from a young age and still did not give up his dreams. Such an inspiring story was told very well.

The timelines were the cherry on top. I think kids will be fascinated by his life, especially the magic lovers

NetGalley, Lisa Berard

This was so cute! I like Harry Houdini but I didn't know he started out learning how to walk on a tightrope. The art is nice, and I really liked how the rope connected across all the pages. It has positive messages of determination, perseverance, and familial support. Lots of interesting historical information at the end, as well.

NetGalley, Melanie Gaum

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

It is hard for me to find biography children's books that I enjoy, and I am pleased to say that this was incredible. I loved the words the author used to describe Houdini's early childhood act, and how she was able to make a biography so interesting for kids. And do not even get me started on the illustrations, absolutely stunning. I highly recommend this!

NetGalley, Emma Skinner

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I thought that this book was excellent and I loved the story.

I loved that it showed the determination of Houdini in the book and how much he wanted to succeed. The illustrations were perfect for the book and really brought Harry’s story to life.

I read the book with my 6 year old daughter and I loved the way that the book was written and how well it was all put together. She was able to read the book to me and really enjoyed it from start to finish.

The story was easy for her to read and follow and it was a great way for us to spend some time together – we do love our reading time and she takes after me with her massive love of books!

It is 5 stars from me for this one – very highly recommended!

NetGalley, Donna Maguire

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Harry Houdini is a person my students are fascinated by. I liked the emphasis on learning something new, which takes repetition and practice and believing in oneself. I loved how the illustration of what he was using to learn how to tightrope walk stretched across the spreads of the book. The backmatter was thorough and accessible to younger readers.

NetGalley, Mallory Nygard

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Even Harry Houdini had to work hard and practice. Once he figured out what he wanted to do, though, he worked hard to achieve his goals and kept getting better all the time.
I really like the way the illustrations carry over from page to page, which makes you feel like you're on a journey with Harry. There are a lot more facts about his life at the end of the story and even some fun tricks to try.

NetGalley, Lisa Davidson

This was a delightful and inspiring tale that introduces young readers to the captivating world of one of history's most fascinating figures, Harry Houdini. As a seven-year-old boy, Harry dreams of doing something extraordinary, and a visit to the circus sparks his ambition to walk the tightrope. "Harry and the High Wire" it's a captivating story; it's a wonderful blend of entertainment and education, making it an essential read for young minds eager to discover the magic of ambition and self belief.

NetGalley, Arianna Antonio

About Julie Carpenter

Julie Carpenter is a journalist, writer and editor of over 20 years experience. After gaining a masters degree from Oxford University, she started out as a gossip columnist on The Daily Express. She then became a feature writer and theatre critic there for many years. She has also written news, comment, travel, magazine and lifestyle articles and contributed a regular Sunday Express column. Since having her own children, she found herself re-immersed in the wonderful world of children’s literature and began editing for Green Bean Books. Harry and the High-Wire is her first children’s story.


About Laura Catalan

Laura Catalán studied Anthropology at university before going on to pursue a more artistic path, starting with some classic drawing lessons in Cercle Artistic Sant Lluç in Barcelona while taking part in workshops for children’s illustration. She has illustrated numerous fiction books and educational material for Spanish, UK and US publishing houses. Her picture books include Two Peas in a PodThe Naughty Spectre and Daughter of the God Sülde and, for Green Bean Books, The Chocolate King.

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