The Abracadabra Kid: A Writer’s Life is the autobiography of Newbery Award-winning author Sid Fleischmann. In addition to writing dozens of books, Fleischman worked as a magician, a journalist, and a screenwriter in a long and eventful life.
The book has a colloquial tone. It’s like being told stories by an older relative who tells really good stories. Fleischman tells about taking his magic show on the road around Lake Tahoe during the Depression in a car bought for $35, avoiding floating mines in the Pacific while serving on a naval destroyer escort during World War II, and setting off the foghorns in the San Francisco Bay with fog machines while filming Blood Alley starring John Wayne and Lauren Bacall.
He also shares a lot of stories about where he got the ideas for his novels. I was particularly interested his tales about his California Gold Rush novel, By the Great Horn Spoon!, which Blaine read and enjoyed in the 4th grade.
I read The Abracadabra Kid aloud to Larrabee, hoping to encourage him to write. While he definitely took note of Fleischman’s writing tips, so far the book has mainly inspired him to pull out his book of coin tricks and practice his French drop. He’s not quite ready to take that show on the road, though.
We both liked the book. Thank you to Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators friend Kristi Wright for the recommendation!