The purpose of magic has changed since temple priests in ancient times used mechanical devices to make wine pour from statues' mouths and doors open with the sound of thunder. Entertainers in the Middle Ages would try other techniques such as sleight of hand to mystify the crowds as they traveled from city to city.

In the 1800s, stage magicians became popular. John Henry Anderson, "The Great Wizard of the North," practiced magic in London for thirty years. Other magic parlors opened in the big cities. London's Egyptian Hall was famous for its wonders, and Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin's illusions in Paris relied a lot on scientific advances for their effects.

Probably the most famous American magician was Harry Houdini. Houdini was the star of vaudeville shows and created many escape tricks. David Copperfield is one of the greatest illusionists of today. He was twelve years old when he first began performing professionally.

Magic Just For Fun

Get started learning magic tricks today, and by autumn's end you will be ready to put on a truly impressive magic show. You can amaze everyone by pulling coins out of thin air or making a friend vanish. The Internet has a few sites that can show you tricks for free, but the library has lots of magic books and videos to help you put on a spectacular performance.

On the Web

Kapoof! Magic You Can Do
Learn magic tricks and watch videos of well-known magicians online.

Magic Tricks
Learn how to make a quarter and a salt shaker disappear. Easy directions from ZOOM at PBSKids.com.

MysteryNet's Kids Mysteries
Good basic magic tricks for kids to learn using handkerchiefs, cards, and coins.

In the Library

60 Super Simple More Magic Tricks by Shawn McMaster
Jump-start your magical career with this guide for easy and amazing magic tricks.

Amazing Magic Tricks by Ben Denn
Learn card tricks, how to make coins disappear, and more illusions.

Learn How to Do Beginner's Magic by Tony Hassini
Learn how to do magic tricks by watching this video. Mr. Hassini teaches you how to do tricks with cards, coins, paper, and other things you probably have around the house.

The Grolier KidsCrafts Magic Book by Dennis Patten
Make your very own magic box for disappearing tricks and create a book of spells complete with a wand that mysteriously appears. Finish off your act with a vanishing friend or the floating lady trick.

Illusions Illustrated: A Professional Magic Show For Young Performers by James W. Baker
A magic show that's ready to go. These ten illusions are not hard to do, but they will surprise the audience. New magicians will appreciate the included scripted patter to keep the show moving. Some tricks require props; others do not.

Magic Fun
Get ready for some easy magic tricks-- only a little practice required!

My First Magic Video
Learn magic from a professional magician. Find out the secrets of making the props, doing the tricks and delivering the "patter" for a performance sure to keep your audience baffled and bemused.

Wanna Bet? Science Challenges to Fool You by Vicki Cobb
They'll bet you can't slice an apple in mid-air with a hammer, but you can, and for very good scientific reasons. Over 60 easy-to-do tricks to amaze and astound.