BOOKWORM: How to put a trick up your sleeve

“Mac King’s Campfire Magic” by Mac King, illustrations by Bill King, foreword by Penn and Teller, c. 2010, Black Dog and Leventhal, $12.95, 176 pages.

  • Monday, June 14, 2010 3:00pm
  • Life

You’ve got big plans this summer.

You’re going to ride your bike everywhere you can, all the time. You’ll shoot a few buckets and play that video game you’ve been trying to master. You might be able to pick up a few dollars by mowing lawns or babysitting. Oh, and your family has that big camping trip coming up and Mom said you could bring a friend.

You love to go camping but sometimes it gets a little boring. Not any more, if you’ve got “Mac King’s Campfire Magic” by Mac King (illustrations by Bill King) in your backpack.

In his introduction, King says he firmly believes everyone should know “at least one cool trick or stunt.” But you can’t just try once or twice and expect to perform in front of an audience right away. Becoming amazing won’t happen fast because there is no such thing as a (decent) trick that doesn’t take practice.

That doesn’t mean a trick has to be difficult to be cool, though; King says some of the best tricks are the easiest ones to do. By using the drawings in this book (they make the learning process “a zillion times easier”) and by practicing until you get comfortable and can do tricks smoothly, you’ll be having so much fun wowing your friends that you’ll want to tackle the harder stunts.

Warn everybody now. You’re about to become awesome…

You might have some rope in your knapsack; if you don’t, you’ll undoubtedly be able to find some lying around the campground. Grab it and get ready: There are five rope tricks in this book, from easy to complicated-but-cool, including one where you cut an adult “in half.” Pack a deck of cards, by the way, because there are card tricks in this book, too.

But let’s say you forgot all your special props. Now what?

You’re still in luck. “Mac King’s Campfire Magic” includes stunts you can do with things in the forest, tricks that use everyday objects your parents will have around (like coins and pencils), cool things you can do with recyclables and stunts that only require your powerful, awesome, magical brain!

Got a kid who treats any light – even campfire – as limelight? Then you’ve absolutely got to pack “Mac King’s Campfire Magic” in the camper next time you head out.

Even kids who have never practiced prestidigitation before will find things they can do in this book, all with easy step-by-step directions and pointers to ensure they don’t get frustrated. The best part – for kids and adults alike – is that many of the tricks are fresh and very un-stale. That means Scouts and non-Scouts alike will enjoy genuinely surprising their audiences.

If your 7- to 12-year-old loves camping and the spotlight equally and if you need an “in case it rains” diversion for your next outdoors trip, you’re going to want “Mac King’s Campfire Magic” in your knapsack. Give your kids this book and watch time disappear.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with her two dogs and 9,500 books.


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