Review by Steve Vaughn
< steve.vaughn@analog.com >
Date: Monday, 26 September 2005, at 3:28 p.m.
Title:
Tear-Able Magic: Paper Magic For Wizards
By: Eleazar Goodenough
Available from:
www.magicnook.com
Medium: E-book - pdf file
Cost: $40 USD
Level: Performer, kids' shows, parlour, family shows

This is an interesting e-book, in that its origin seems to have caused controversy. Eleazar Goodenough is an eight year old character found in stories written by the grandfather of an eight year old who was motivated to write the stories to get the young fellow interested in reading. From what I understand, it worked. The character Eleazar is based on the nameless youngster and this ebook is being presented as authored by the eight year old. Now if you read the e-book, you'll see that either it was written by an experienced magician or was heavily edited to the point where it reads like something written by an experienced magician. I tell you this because some may think it is written like one expects an eight year old to write but it isn't; it is rather well written and the information clear.

This e-book is 88 pages long and clearly written with adequate illustrations. If I was to find any problem with the illustrations it is that they were done on the computer which limits you, using basic software, compared to what can be done by hand. This is only a minor complaint and only because my brother is a graphic artist and I have higher standards. The illustrations are not lacking, just could have been more elaborate. The book mostly covers four or five catagories of paper tears.

What you will find first is how to make your own mouth coils (or fist coils). I learned how to make them in a store that did special gift wrapping and was always surprised that more folks didn't know how to make them. Pretty nice to be able to make the the color you want and the size you want.

Next the book covers how to make your own hat tears, a mainstay in children's shows and always a crowd pleaser. Eleazar goes over different styles of the cone shaped hats, meaning wizard, witches, clown, etc. You are given info on the construction and decorating of the hats as well as some performance and additional tips. This is some pretty interesting stuff and I know it made me change my presentation some because, well, I didn't think of it first. The handling is different than the standard shop bought hat tears and I like the clean up better in the book than with the standard hats.

Next Eleazar goes into different types of hat tears like an Uncle Sam (top hat) hat and graduation cap. Again these come with performance tips. These do take a bit more work, but if if you need 'em, you'll do 'em.

Next comes some info on a paper ladder, which I've tried and failed at making since I was about four and saw it on TV. That's right, 40 years of failure and now I can do it! The paper ladder is used as part of an elaborate Hawaiian themed presentation that has torn leis (?), pineapple, shirt, shorts, pretty much everything needed to keep the Tiki gods happy. The routine is given, tips, you name it. Good stuff.

Next comes a routine with a tear tie (neck tie) with all kinds of fun stuff involved.

The final part of the e-book is what Eleazar calls "The Ultimate Newspaper Tear." I admit I am not familiar enough with newspaper tears, I use an old one, to know if this is the ultimate or not. I put together one and it works as described and the big benefit is you end clean. In my version you cannot hand out the paper, but here you can. Different magical applications are applied to this routine and a lot of thought went into it. Might be cool to do if you want to be able to restore the paper then set it down and let curiosity take over when specs get their hands on it after you are done. The gimmick is well designed and made to last, I wish I could tell you more but want to respect the creator.

This is a well done e-book and the information should be of value to kids' show and family show performers and I can recommend it to those types of performers. Close up guys and strollers might not find it of much use, but perhaps of interest.

2005, Steve Vaughn, used by permission