Potter, Schmotter. For some real magic, you need the likes of Doug Henning or David Copperfield.
A good sleight-of-hand trick — even if you know it’s a trick — can suspend reality for a moment or so and make the world seem fantastical.
Here are some tips and resources for beginners, if you want to make a little magic of your own.
Two easy tricks
The effect: After shuffling a deck of cards, you take the top 13 and flip through them as you spell out the card names, from A-C-E to K-I-N-G. As you spell each card, it magically appears on the top of the stack!
The preparation: Remove and arrange 13 cards (different suits) in the following order, face down, the 5 on the bottom: 5, 9, 10, K, J, 2, 4, 6, Q, A, 7, 8, 3.
The trick: Pretend to shuffle the cards, but don’t touch the top 13. Remove those 13 cards and fan them out so the audience can see the faces. Square them up, and hold them face down.
Then spell out each card like this, starting with the ace: Say “A,” remove the top card and place it on the bottom. Then say “C,” and remove the top card and place it on the bottom. Next say “E,” remove the top card and place it on the bottom.
Now flip over the top card, which will be the ace. Show it around, and lay it face up on the table. Keep going through the rest of the cards the same way, all the way up to the king.
This and lots more card tricks can be found at www.cardtricksite.com.
All Sugared Up
The effect: A spectator thinks of a number and writes it on a sugar cube. The cube is dissolved in a glass of water, and the number magically appears on the palm of the spectator’s hand.
The preparation: You’ll need a glass of water, a sugar cube and a pencil. Beforehand, secretly dip your right index finger into the water to get it wet.
The trick: Ask someone to write a number on a side of the sugar cube. Be sure the writing is nice and dark.
Pick up the cube with your right hand, using your thumb and index finger (the wet one). Make sure your index finger is pressed firmly against the written number. That will transfer the pencil mark to your finger.
Now you have to transfer the pencil mark to the spectator’s hand. Drop the cube into the glass of water, then take the spectator’s hand, lightly pressing your index finger against the palm.
Wave the hand over the glass, say a bit of magical mumbo-jumbo, turn the spectator’s hand over and presto! The penciled number is there on the palm.
To find out about this and other tricks, visit www.geocities .com/learnmagicforfun.
• Magician Mac King has a series of funny and informative one-minute videos at kids.aol .com/create-it/magic-in-a-minute. Don’t miss the one on how to eat a goldfish.
• There are four easy tricks created by magician Harry Blackstone at www.magicexhibit .org, a wonderfully informative site on the history and science of magic from the California Science Center.
• There’s a handful of good tricks at kids.mysterynet.com/magic, including our favorite, “The Loose Thumb.”
• For tricks using everyday objects — watch a thumbtack spin mystically in a glass of soda! — try angelfire .com/pe/SimpleMagik.
Two good books
• “The Klutz Book of Magic” ($16.95, Klutz Press): From the reliable folks at Klutz, 31 tricks for kids ages 9-12.
Also look for Klutz’s “Coin Magic,” with a supply of double-headed quarters, and Klutz’s “Magnetic Magic,” for tricks with magnets.
• “Mr. Mysterious’s Secrets of Magic” by Sid Fleischman (out of print, check the library or a used bookstore).
Before he became a Newbery-winning author of comic novels, Fleischman was a vaudeville magician. This nonfiction book rounds up 21 tricks. Also check out Fleischman’s recent bio, “Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini.”
More info — and a great card trick — can be found at sidfleischman.com.