Library Legerdemain by Michael Manchester

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Tom Frame
Posts: 1251
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Del Ray
Location: San Francisco

Library Legerdemain by Michael Manchester

Postby Tom Frame » October 31st, 2014, 6:45 pm

Library Legerdemain (Book) by Michael Manchester $25.00
Paperback, 107 pages, 164 photographs
Available at:

As I’ve stated many times, I love the sight and smell and feel and sound and taste of a real book. I suspect that Michael Manchester shares my passion because he has written a book devoted to magically turning children on to the joy of reading. To achieve that end, he has clothed ten familiar effects with presentations that encourage the young whippersnappers to read.

The author’s target audience isn’t magicians, but teachers and library staff. What a novel, niche notion.

Mr. Manchester writes well and does a good job of teaching the material. I was pleased that he includes a bibliography that cites the sources of some of the concepts that he discusses. However, I was disappointed that he doesn’t provide primary attribution for any of the methods that he employs.

In the Contents section, the author erroneously transposes the order of two of the effects.

The photographs are large and clear and helpful.

And Then There Was One: The performer tables seven books and a folded prediction. He and the participant take turns eliminating books until only one remains. The participant opens the prediction and discovers that the performer correctly predicted the remaining book.

I like it.

A Message from Garry: The performer tables a book, a marker and a blank piece of paper. He opens the book and inserts the paper into it, leaving the upper portion of the paper hanging out of the top edge of the book. He closes the book and folds the exposed paper over the back of the book.

The participant writes her name on the exposed portion of the paper. The performer tables the book. The participant removes the slip of paper from the book and discovers that it now bears a message from the book’s main character.

I like it.

Presto! Chango!!: The performer displays the front cover of a book and places the book behind his back. The participant makes a magical gesture and recites a magical phrase. The performer removes the book from behind his back and reveals that the book’s cover has changed.

The book must be specially prepared and it can’t be examined. Mr. Manchester acknowledges that this effect is only suitable for very young, nearly embryonic children. With that caveat in mind…

I like it.

Cut and Restored Bookmark: The participant freely selects a bookmark and writes her name on its top edge. She folds the bookmark in half and drops it into a vertical envelope. The performer pulls the bookmark out of the envelope until its folded edge is exposed. The participant uses scissors to cut off the top third of the bookmark. She drops the cut piece into the envelope with the rest of the bookmark. The performer closes the envelope.

The participant makes a magical gesture over the envelope. The performer opens the envelope. The participant reaches into the envelope and removes the bookmark. She opens her signed bookmark and discovers that it is now restored.

The envelope can’t be immediately examined, but the participant’s experience of the restoration and her examination of the bookmark will provide ample misdirection to execute the recommended, primitive switch.

I like it.

A Magic Match: The performer writes a prediction on the lower half of the back of a display board. He hands a deck of alphabet cards to a participant. He places the display board between him and the participant.

The participant turns the cards face down and mixes them. She selects cards, sight unseen and hands them to the performer, who tapes them face up to the back of the display board, above his prediction. He turns the display board around and reveals that he correctly predicted the participant’s word.

The participant doesn’t initially see her selected cards, nor does she know what becomes of them after the performer takes them behind the display board. This handling is needlessly opaque and suspicious. Superior methods are available for performing this type of effect.

I don’t like it.

Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo: The performer displays three books sitting on a book shelf. A participant freely selects one of the books. The performer reveals that he correctly predicted which book would be chosen.

I like it.

Marked Bookmarks: The performer gives identical bookmarks and pens to four participants. He turns his back and instructs each participant to write the name of their favourite author or book at the top of the bookmark. One of the participants gathers the bookmarks and mixes them.

The performer turns around and retrieves the bookmarks. Without asking any questions, he correctly divines the owner of each bookmark.

I like it.

Book Wormhole: The performer gives blank pieces of paper and pens to three participants. Each participant writes a random, three digit number on their piece of paper.

The performer collects the papers, writes the numbers on a notepad, and draws a line under them. He folds the pieces of paper and pockets them. He hands the notepad to one of the participants and asks her to add the numbers and write the total beneath the line.

He retrieves the notepad, tears off the sheet and folds it in half, so that only the total is visible. He hands the sheet to a participant, who reads the total aloud.

The performer states that the total represents the Dewey catalog number of a book. He and the participants locate the book. A participant opens the book and discovers a piece of paper that predicted that the participants would choose that book.

I like it.

Out of Classroom Experience: The performer takes a group of participants from the same classroom to the library. Each participant selects a book that will represent their classroom desk. The participants arrange the books on the floor in the same order as their desks in the classroom.

The performer hands a pair of dice to a participant and turns his back. The participant rolls the dice and writes down the top two numbers. She turns the dice over and writes down the bottom two numbers. She adds the four numbers to arrive at a total.

Looking at the books on the floor, the participants count left to right, top to bottom, until they arrive at the book that corresponds to the secret number. That book represents a desk in their classroom.

The participant whose book was chosen picks up the book and turns it to face the opposite direction of the other books. After the participants commit that image to memory, they assemble the books and turn the reversed book around so that all of the books are facing the same direction.

The performer turns around and leads the participants to their classroom. The classroom door is locked and must be unlocked by a teacher. The participants enter their classroom and discover that the desk corresponding to the book they reversed in the library is now facing the opposite direction from the other desks.

I like it.

A Fine Balance: The performer removes two hardback books and one paperback book from a book shelf. He places the hardback books upright on a table, separated by about six inches. He balances the paperback book by its edge on top of the other books. He removes one of the hardback books and the paperback book remains suspended by the lone book.

You have to essentially create the paperback book, and one of the hardback books needs to be specially prepared. Neither book can be examined.

All of the heat is on the books. Any kid old enough to read is going to immediately assume that the books are gimmicked, and they’re likely to correctly determine the precise method.

Mr. Manchester recommends using this effect as a closer, so that the performer can quickly put away the books and shoo away the kids before they insist on examining them. That tactic will only put more heat on the already broiling books.

I have a better idea. Don’t perform this effect.

I don’t like it.

I applaud any endeavor that encourages kids to read books, and possibly fall in love with section 793.8 of the library. Mr. Manchester’s book is a welcomed step in the right direction.


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