How To Create Kids' Magic and Triple Your
by John Breeds
Approximately 200 A4 pages
Reviewed by Peter Rann
Published by Practical Magic 2009
This is not just another book on magic for children. It is a course about presentation which would cost hundreds of pounds if it were a correspondence course. No matter what stage you are at in presenting magic for children the advice in this book will apply to you. The first three chapters are worth the cost of the book and apply to all entertainers.
‘How’ is the operative word in the title. John takes the reader by the hand and leads them generously through the path of a professional kids' entertainer, helping to avoid many of those pit falls that some more seasoned entertainers know about but keep to themselves (they had to learn the hard way so why shouldn't you!).
Having guided the reader into a self-assessment, highlighting any personal strengths, weaknesses and limitations, the first chapter progresses to an in-depth focus on sales techniques. I have not seen such a comprehensive presentation of this subject before for magicians. It has often been skimmed over in other books but John presents the information clearly and expertly which encourages a professional and entertaining approach from the first telephone enquiry through to packing up at the end of the show.
John continues his expert tuition into the next chapter which points out the most effective ways of gaining publicity and advertising. The wrinkles and tips throughout this section are invaluable in showing what works and what does not. I particularly liked the idea of parking the car festooned with advertising magnetic stickers near to the entrance of a supermarket when the magician has a day off.
Another master class is introduced with the chapter 'Audience Control and Staging'. Particularly interesting is the section on microphones and sound equipment. This again is often mentioned by other writers but seldom approached in such a useful and fully informative manner. The use of sound effects and how to obtain them, combining them to work with the sound system certainly adds another dimension to the magic show.
Use of the backcloth, lighting and audience seating are all looked at in depth, including a useful tip for keeping the noisy adults quiet. Personal hygiene and grooming are featured with a list of comments that entertainers may be unaware of and not too happy to hear about themselves! There is even a tip from a top entertainer on keeping your tongue the right colour.
By the time I got to the 'Funny Tricks and Clever Bits' in Chapter 4, I could see in my mind’s eye the whole set up, back cloth, table and sound system. I had got to know John’s philosophy on entertainment and was looking forward to the show. I was not disappointed.
This chapter could easily be sold as a book on its own. It has superb, well-developed, original routines, some of them using familiar props but all with lots of fun and twists.
Whilst I enjoyed them all, several routines stood out: the 'Yes - No Book' where a boy can only answer 'Yes' to the questions asked and a girl 'No' it may not be magic as such, but it sure is entertainment.
The mind reading routines for kids, including an updated version of the Hen Fetsch 'Epic Slate', are also very well worth a look. One routine, 'Don't Ring That Bell' is the modern equivalent of the Breakaway Wand (literally, with bells on) is a winner if ever I saw one.
The section on 'Visible Magic Painting' showed how versatile this concept is, giving much food for thought.
The book concludes with a section on 'Non- Elimination Games'. These include many games keeping everyone involved: 'Pass the Parcel Plus', 'Musical Chairs - Plus' (PLUS is a bye word throughout this book!) and finishing with advice on parachute games.
This book is written by a man who is passionate about his magic and entertaining the children. Making lots of money is not the be-all-and-end-all of this book; it is self-satisfaction and being comfortable with what you do. Providing a professional service reduces stress all around. Some magicians suffer from trying to do too much for too little and the entertainment suffers as a result. This book is the guide to enjoying your magic for a profit.
© Peter Rann, February 2009
Available from: www.practical-magic.com