The Young Illusionists
By Jim Gerrish
© 2022, Imagineering Magic. All Rights Reserved.
Derek was very young when he developed his love for magic
tricks. Many youngsters get magic sets for Christmas or for their
Birthdays. Not Derek. His parents gave him practical gifts: like
clothes, shoes, socks, books on every subject except magic, pens
and pencils and paper.
Derek found out about magic from a magician who came to his
school one day and put on a magic show. Derek was only in
kindergarten, but he watched enthralled as the magician made
birds and rabbits appear and disappear. After the show, he
sneaked into the line of older kids who wanted to get the
magicians autograph. Derek didnt want an autograph.
When he got his turn with the magician he asked him, How
can I learn to do magic like you?
The magician gave him his business card and autograph anyway. His
magic name was Presto. Then Presto said, Because you asked
so nicely, and handed him a small book on how to do magic
Derek thanked him and opened the book. He learned the first trick
right away how to tear up a piece of paper and then put it
back together again. Presto the magician was still packing up his
show while Derek was busy tearing up newspaper and restoring it
in the back of the auditorium.
Not like that, said Presto as he watched Derek
learning his first magic trick. If you want to do a trick,
what you are doing is fine. But if you want to do magic, then
make it magic.
Presto took a piece of newspaper and tore it up, then he wiggled
his fingers over the torn pieces and said Presto! He
unfolded the paper to show that it was back together again and
that his hands were empty.
Where did the pieces go? asked Derek.
Thats the magic part, said Presto. Go
ahead and try it again.
Derek took two pieces of newspaper like the book said and folded
one sheet up into a small package that he stuck to the other
sheet with a bit of tape.
Do it without the tape, said Presto. Now show
me that your hands are empty and turn the paper all around before
you begin to tear it.
Presto picked up a sheet of newspaper and had nothing else in his
hands. He turned the paper all around. Then he stopped and showed
Derek where he was holding the folded-up paper and how he changed
it from hand to hand as he showed both sides of the paper and
showed that each of his hands was empty while keeping the extra
Thats not in the book, said Derek.
The book is for a beginner, said Presto. It
shows you how to begin to do a magic trick, but you have to turn
it from a trick into magic in the minds of your audience.
Derek followed Prestos advice and this time he restored the
paper and was able to get rid of the torn pieces to be able to
show both his hands empty just like Presto had showed him. Derek
thanked Presto for helping him and Presto promised to continue to
help him with magic in the future, just by calling the phone
number on Prestos business card.
Before school was over, Derek had learned five magic tricks from
the book, and looked for ways to make them seem more like magic
than just tricks. Kindergarteners dont usually get
detention after school, but Dereks teacher saw him doing
magic tricks off in the corner and scolded him for wasting his
time and gave him a demerit and an hour of detention after
It was Dereks first time in detention. That was where the
bad boys and girls were sent and he was terrified of having his
parents learn that he had been bad in school. But the teacher in
charge of detention, Mr. Hanson, asked him why he had misbehaved
in kindergarten, and Derek showed him all five of the magic
tricks he had learned from the magicians book.
You read this book? asked Mr. Hansen.
Derek nodded and looked ashamed.
Ill have a talk with your teacher about this,
said Mr. Hansen. Im tearing up your demerit and your
detention will not go on the record. Go learn some more magic
tricks at home, but its probably best to leave the magic
book there and stick to the school books your teacher gives you
The next day, Derek came to school with a piece of rope and no
magic book. He spent recess tying the rope into various magic
knots that appeared and disappeared and formed different
After recess, Derek had swimming class at the school pool, but
the teacher was absent and the substitute didnt know what
to teach them, so she gave them free time to play in the water.
Derek got some of the other students to tie his hands behind his
back with the rope and throw him into the pool all tied up. In
seconds he was free of the rope and waving his hands from the
water as the kids cheered him on.
The substitute teacher was horrified that she had allowed a
kindergarten student to get tied up and thrown into the pool, so
back he went to detention with another demerit that day.
The detention teacher, Mr. Hansen, listened to Derek explain what
he had done and started laughing as he tore up the detention and
demerit papers. Now, I looked at that magic book of yours
yesterday and it didnt have anything about getting tied up
and thrown into a pool of water in it, he said.
That was in a book I found in the school library before I
went home yesterday, said Derek. It was by a magician
The school librarian let you take out a book for
adults? he said.
The librarian was busy, so a student helper signed me out
with the book said Derek.
And you read it? asked Mr. Hansen.
Not all of it, admitted Derek. But there were
pictures of how to tie the knots and I could read the parts I was
Even so, that was a very dangerous
thing to do, to allow yourself to be thrown into a pool of water
while your hands were tied behind your back, said Mr.
It was the Kellar Rope
Tie that I used,
said Derek. My hands were out of the tie before I was
thrown in the water. And I'm a very good swimmer. I've been
swimming since I was three years old.
Heres the deal, said Mr. Hansen, when he
got finished laughing. You go to the school library and
take out any books they have on magic and bring them to detention
with you, only for you its a study hall for learning magic
by reading. Tomorrow bring in the Houdini book and you can start
with that for study hall. Anything you dont understand,
bring the book to me and Ill help you read it. Is that a
Derek held out his hand and shook Mr. Hansens hand.
Its a deal! Thanks, Mr. Hansen!
By the time Derek was ready for high school, he and Mr.
Hansen had gone through every library magic book in both the
school library and the town public library. Derek used his shop
class to build magic props and illusions of all types. Each
summer, he ended the year by performing a brief magic show at the
school assembly where students showed what they had learned that
semester. Derek was able to display his science projects,
chemistry projects, astronomy projects, and other things he had
accomplished, as well as perform his magic and illusions.
By eighth grade, Derek had a helper. Barry was a class behind him
but was just as much of a magic enthusiast as Derek, and the two
worked well together, with Derek as the Illusionist and Barry as
his trusted assistant.
For his final magic show on being promoted to ninth grade,
Derek and Barry performed all of the illusions they had built
that year in woodshop.
Barry pushed a tall, curtained cabinet onstage, showed it all
around, lifted up all the curtains and dropped them again.
Suddenly the curtains fell to the floor and Derek appeared inside
the skeleton frame of the cabinet.
Barry brought him four brightly painted wooden planks. Derek
showed each one and fitted the four planks into a rectangular
tube. Then Derek began pulling yards of bright colorful silk
handkerchiefs from the tube, aided by Barry. Derek ended by
making a large rabbit appear from the tube. The rabbit was a
puppet, but both Derek and Barry were so skillful in operating
it, that most of the audience thought it was a live bunny. When
the bunny had finished showing off the tricks it could perform,
Derek put it back inside the tube and then suddenly took the tube
all apart to show just the original four planks
Next, Derek pretended to hypnotize Barry, who stiffened up and
closed his eyes before he began lifting up from the floor so he
was floating in the air. Derek passed a hula hoop down over his
levitating body, and then made Barry turn horizontal so he
appeared to be floating on his back as Derek passed the hoop over
him and around him. That got a lot of applause.
Their final trick was when Derek made a six foot square silk
handkerchief appear from his hands. Barry draped the handkerchief
over Derek and it covered him completely. Suddenly Barry grabbed
the handkerchief and whisked it away to show that Derek had
disappeared. At the same time Derek reappeared at the door to the
auditorium and shouted to let the audience know he had flown from
the stage to the door. That got even more applause, and Derek
came back to the stage, took Barrys hand, and they bowed
together as partners in magic and illusion.
After the show, Derek spent some time signing autographs from his
growing number of magic fans, now to include those in the high
school which he would be attending next year. In the line for
autographs, Derek recognized Presto, the magician who had
launched his magic career back in kindergarten. Now, nine years
older, Presto was getting a little gray hair, but he still had
the magic moves when he shuffled a deck of his own business cards
and tossed one 10 feet through the air right to Dereks
Presto! yelled Derek. Everyone, meet the
magician who got me started when I was in kindergarten! How did I
do today, Presto?
You have grown into a splendid magician, said Presto.
I wrote some notes while I watched your performance, with
suggestions for new magic illusions you could perform based on
your growing skills as a magician. He passed the notebook
to Derek. I brought along a friend to see your show,
he then said. This is Avant Garde. He runs a summer camp
and is looking for someone to teach magic to his campers.
Pleased to meet you, Mr. Garde, said Derek. My
partner and I were planning on spending the summer building up a
new magic show before I have to start high school.
Call me Avant, said Avant Garde, That
wont be a problem for us, because you could always use our
woodshop to teach campers to build their own magic tricks, and
work on your own projects at the same time. Your partner can also
have a job as your assistant and get paid for it, too.
Barry was standing behind Derek nodding his head up and down
vigorously when he heard that it was a paying job that included
him. That got a laugh from everyone and Avant gave them both some
papers for their parents to sign and some information about the
Triple Zombie, here we come! said Derek excitedly to
Whats that about a Triple Zombie? asked
Its a new magic trick based on the floating Zombie
ball, said Derek. Barry and I have been working on
making three silver Zombie balls float around my head and body
with no cloth cover or anything else. Heres a picture of me
rehearsing with it that we made for using as a poster.
Let me know if I can help you guys out with anything,
said Presto. That sounds like a great new magic trick no
one has thought of before.
What? Still Reading? You may want to continue reading as Jim
continues to write the story of Derek and Barry while they learn
to become magicians and illusionists.
|Chapter 1 - The Illusionists
Chapter 2 - The Levitationists
Chapter 3 - The Escapists
Chapter 4 - The Mentalists
Young Illusionists - coming soon! Check back in a month!
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