Harry Weiss—later known as Harry Houdini—is enthralled when the circus comes to his Wisconsin town. He loves all the acts, but his favorites are the tightrope and the amazing trick where a man hangs from a rope by his teeth! Harry and his brother decide to try circus tricks in a nearby barn, and although Harry’s headstrong determination leads him into trouble, it also opens up a whole new world. In this evocative story, Eric A. Kimmel tells how Harry Weiss discovered his love for performing, many years before he became world famous.
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A noted storyteller, Dr. Kimmel has performed for children and adults throughout the United States. He is a nationally known authority on literature for children, as well as a frequent contributor to Cricket magazine. His many interests include bird watching, baking bread, brewing beer, spinning, traveling by train, and riding horses. His latest accomplishment is learning to play the banjo.
"I love old things: old books, old pictures, old tools, old songs, and especially old stories. My earliest memories are of my grandmother telling me stories she remembered from her own childhood in Europe. The best present I ever received was a volume of Grimm's Fairy Tales, which I loved so much that I literally read it to pieces. Somehow, I always knew that I was going to be a writer when I grew up, and that I would share the stories I loved so much with others.
"Sometimes someone will say, 'But you changed the story!' Of course I did. I always do. So does every storyteller. Stories aren't dead relics, preserved in a jar or stuffed and put into a glass case for people to gawk at. They are alive, and like all living things they grow and change. You are not the same person you were yesterday. You are not the person you will be tomorrow. So it is with stories. They change each time they are told. They change with each teller. They change as they move across continents and generations. That is why I find being a teller of tales so exciting. It allows me to add something of myself to each story, just as each story adds something of itself to me."
Eric Kimmel is well known for his humorous original tales, including Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. He lives in Portland, Oregon.