Mike's magic tricks have helped him learn how to focus, improve his reputation, and stand up for himself. But his new confidence is about to face its biggest challenge yet-the school talent show!
Mike signs up immediately. After all, what magician would pass up the chance to perform on a real stage? But then, he learns that Nora, his friend and trusted magician's assistant, is suffering from a massive case of stage fright, and won't be able to help him during the performance.
As everything starts going wrong, Mike starts to wonder if he might need a magic trick to help him disappear!
About the Author
Kate Egan is a freelance editor and the author of several books including the picture book Kate and Nate Are Running Late. She lives in Brunswick, Maine, with her husband and two children.
Magician Mike Lane has been performing magic professionally for over 30 years. He lives with his wife, Donna, and their two children, Daniel and Lindsay, in Staten Island, New York.
Eric Wight is an author, illustrator, and animation director, whose books for children include the Frankie Pickle series. Eric lives in Chalfont, Pennsylvania, with his family.
Read an Excerpt
The Disappearing Magician
By Kate Egan, Mike Lane, Eric Wight
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2015 Kate Egan and Mike Lane
All rights reserved.
Mike Weiss had his eyes fixed on the classroom clock. It was 1:58. The minute hand lurched forward, it seemed, about once an hour. When would it be 2:00, then? Some people would say two minutes. Mike knew it would be forever.
Mrs. Canfield's fourth graders were gathered in a circle as she talked about different kinds of rocks. Some kids were passing rocks around the room: One had layers in it, like stripes, while another one was studded with shells. Yet another one was black and shiny.
"Who can remind me how sedimentary rock is formed?" Mrs. Canfield asked the class.
Who can remind me, Mike wondered, what that is? Or why I need to know?
His eyes wandered back to the clock. 1:59.
Eventually, the rock talk would be over and his class could go downstairs to meet their first-grade book buddies. Reading stories with pictures to a bunch of little kids ... that was Mike's kind of schoolwork. From now on, they'd get to do it once a week.
"Mike?" said Mrs. Canfield.
He blinked. "Yes?"
"Still with us?"
He sat up straight, like he'd been paying close attention.
Mrs. Canfield prompted him. "Sedimentary rock comes from ..."
Mike cleared his throat. The whole class was watching.
Next to him, Emily Winston's hand shot up like a rocket. Mike didn't know the answer, but Emily did, and she could hardly wait to blurt it out.
Then there was a click from the clock. The minute hand jumped ahead!
Mrs. Canfield stood up and smiled. "We'll get back to this tomorrow," she told the class. "Two o'clock. Time to go! Our book buddies will be waiting."
Lucky break, Mike thought. Just in time!
There was a rush of activity as the kids stuffed their backpacks with folders and notebooks, lunchboxes and sneakers, so they'd be ready to go home at the end of the day. Then everyone lined up at the door to walk downstairs. It wasn't easy, but Mike managed not to speak above a whisper in the hallway. That was the rule, and he wasn't taking any risks.
Mike tried really hard not to get in trouble at school these days. If he went to the principal's office, she'd call Mike's parents. And if Ms. Scott called his parents, he'd lose an important privilege: biking downtown, all by himself, to The White Rabbit. The world's best magic shop.
The fourth graders filed into Mrs. Kavanaugh's room and stood in a row. The first graders observed them, quiet as mice, from their tiny chairs. Who would he be paired with? Mike wondered. The girl in the unicorn shirt? The boy with the glasses?
The classroom was bright and cheerful, with kids' art all over the wall. On a table in the back, Mike spotted a jumbo bag of pretzels and two bottles of apple juice. Snacks! Mike thought. The afternoon was looking even better. He clutched the book he'd brought to read to his buddy. Sometimes he liked little kids, like his cousins Jake and Lily, better than kids his own age.
"Welcome, fourth graders!" said Mrs. Kavanaugh. "Are we ready to get started?" She passed around a cardboard box, and each of Mike's classmates selected a name from it.
When it was Mike's turn, he stuck his hand in the box and read the name out loud. "Lucas?" he asked, scanning the faces in front of him. A boy with long, shaggy hair raised his hand. "That's me!" he called out. He and Mike walked to the snack table together.
Mike took charge of the apple juice, and unfolded his getting-to-know-you worksheet. This was supposed to make the first grader feel at home with him. "Do you have any pets?" Mike asked. "What are their names?"
Lucas just sat there with his mouth hanging open. His two front teeth were missing.
Can he talk? Mike wondered. It might be hard with missing teeth.
Can he eat pretzels? Mike wasn't sure what to do. Break the snacks into pieces?
"Maybe we should just start reading," he said. The book he'd brought was called The Magic Hat. He was pretty sure a first grader would like it. Mike showed Lucas the cover.
"I knew it!" said Lucas, just about jumping out of his seat. "You're the magician!"
"I do like magic. ..." Mike admitted.
"I saw you on the playground!" Lucas said. "When I was waiting for the bus!"
He must have seen the Great Escape, Mike realized. With that illusion, he'd tricked Jackson Jacobs, the meanest kid in school!
Lucas was really excited. "I saw you in the lunchroom, too!" he insisted. "You're famous!"
Suddenly, Mike felt two feet taller. Famous? He liked the sound of that. Too bad he didn't see what was coming next.
"Could you do a trick for me?" asked Lucas.
Mike looked around the room. All the names had been chosen and all the kids had broken up into pairs. Mrs. Kavanaugh and Mrs. Canfield were moving around slowly, making sure the getting-to-know-yous were going well.
I'm supposed to make Lucas feel comfortable, Mike thought. And nobody said I couldn'tdo magic.
He was trying so hard to do everything right! When magic was involved, though, Mike couldn't help himself.
As usual, he had a deck of cards in his pocket. He pulled the cards out and held the four jacks in front of him, like a fan. "See these jacks?" he said to Lucas. "I'm going to put them right here on top of the deck."
"Okay," said Lucas, watching.
Mike put the four jacks on top of the deck and lifted the first one off again. "Now, I'm going to place this jack someplace inside the deck," he said. He stuck it in with the other cards at random and continued, "I'll do that with the other jacks, too."
Next, he handed the deck to Lucas. "Can you hold these for a second?" When Lucas got hold of them, Mike said, "Now, take the four cards off the top for me, okay?"
Lucas's jaw dropped as he peeled off four jacks in a row.
"Voila," said Mike, scooping the cards out of his hands and wishing, like always, that he had a good magic word. "The four jacks jumped to the top!"
"That's sick," Lucas said in awe.
Mike looked over at Mrs. Canfield. She was talking to Oscar and heading in his direction. Mike stuck the cards back in his pocket.
"I think we should start the book now, okay?" he said to Lucas.
The story was about a wizard, not a magician. He had a hat that could make him invisible and allow him to fly. It could make stuff appear and disappear, too. But even the wizard didn't know it could shoot red-hot lightning bolts — until another wizard tried to steal it!
Lucas's mouth dropped open again when the wizards met. He gripped the desk till the magic hat saved the day. "Let's read it again!" he said when it was over.
Lucas was supposed to read a book of his own, though. "Sun," read Lucas slowly. "Rain." His book had only one word on each page, but Mike didn't mind. He remembered when he was in first grade. He wasn't good at reading, either.
When their time was up, Lucas didn't want to say good-bye. "See you next week, buddy," Mike said, with a light punch to his shoulder. Lucas beamed, and for a minute Mike felt like he really was famous.
Mrs. Canfield's class trooped back upstairs just as the end-of-the-day announcements began. Mike was only half-listening, as usual. If there was anything important, his parents would tell him.
"Now for some news that will brighten the dark winter days!" Mrs. Warren, the school secretary, said cheerfully.
Why were grown-ups always talking about making the winter better? Mike wondered. He and his friends loved the winter! But grown-ups didn't play outside in the snow.
Mrs. Warren went on. "On Monday, we will start putting together our first-ever talent show!"
A talent show? The announcement was like an electric shock.
Now Mike was listening hard.
Mrs. Warren continued, "Bring your act, ready to perform, to the gym after school on Monday afternoon. This is not an audition, but an open call for acts. We will spend the week rehearsing, with the big show Friday night!" Then she moved onto another announcement about the Lost and Found.
Mike wasn't always into school activities. And okay, it wasn't like anyone was begging him to join the school clubs. But he actually had a talent, the kind he could show onstage! Chess Club kids couldn't say that, could they?
Some people, like Lucas, had seen Mike's magic already. But he could do so much more! What if he didn't have to steal time during class? What if he had a stage all to himself? Then he'd really be famous! Just like his distant relative, Harry Houdini.
Suddenly, the coming weekend was full of purpose. Mike would pick out his best magic, practice with Nora, plan his show.
It was time to get his act together!CHAPTER 2
At their usual meet-up spot on the playground, Mike waited for Nora. Where was she, anyway? Chatting with her teacher like they were BFFs? Asking for extra homework? Sometimes, Nora did things that Mike would never understand.
It was starting to snow, so he zipped up his jacket and put on his hat. Then he stuck out his tongue to catch some snowflakes. Each one was like a tiny drink of water.
Some kids were lining up for the bus, but others — like Mike — were lingering on the playground before walking home.
There was a patch of ice right in the middle of the basketball court, with kids sliding around on it in their boots. There was also a giant snowbank, built up by plows after each storm. Right now, it was as high as the second floor of the school! Other kids were busy with a snowball war up there. But none of them was Nora.
Mike had to tell her about the talent show! If he didn't say it out loud, he was going to burst! Was she playing at the edge of the woods? Someone had built a fort back there, he knew.
He was walking toward it when a figure in head-to-toe snow gear, a cloud of steam coming out of its mouth, yelled "Mike! Come check out the slide!"
Mike didn't even know who it was — in winter coats and snowpants, you could barely tell who was a boy and who was a girl. It wasn't Nora, he was sure. But what was he supposed to do while he was waiting for her? Curiously, he followed the mystery kid.
Turned out it was Mike's new friend Adam. His hat flew off as he whipped down the slide three times faster than usual, along a thick layer of ice. He crash-landed at the bottom, laughed, and said to Mike, "You've gotta try it!"
Might as well, Mike thought.
It was faster than a zipline! Faster than a roller coaster! Soon, a line of boys was gathered there, taking turns and perfecting the ride. "It's better like this!" said Mike's friend Charlie, tucking his legs up as he slid. "Or this!" yelled someone else, going down headfirst. Even Mike could tell that it wasn't completely safe. He really wanted to try it ... but what if he got hurt before the talent show?
Mike was at the top rung of the steps, about to lie down on the slide, when he noticed a purple coat across the playground. It was Nora, with a bunch of girls, making a snowman.
Mike zipped down the slide with his arms out. "Later," he said to the boys.
Nora was sticking rocks along the front of the snowman, like buttons, while Coco — from Nora's class — unwound her own scarf to wrap around its neck.
"Now all he needs is a nose!" Nora said. She spotted Mike and waved.
"Looks great," Mike said. He couldn't wait to get out of here! "Ready to go?"
She said, "Almost. I just need to find a carrot."
"A carrot?" Mike repeated. Was she serious?
"From someone's leftover lunch," Nora explained. "Or the cafeteria, maybe. For the nose."
On some other day, Mike might have liked that kind of treasure hunt. But not today! And it was impossible, right? Why would you leave carrots in your lunchbox, if you'd been unlucky enough to get them? They'd be in the trash by now.
"I need to tell you something!" he whispered urgently.
Nora looked at him. "Can't you tell me right here?"
"No!" Mike said. He looked around to make sure no one was watching. "It's a magic thing, okay?" They had planning to do, and practicing. In secret! It was much more important than a snowman's nose!
"I'm not ready yet," Nora said firmly. "I could meet you at home."
What would Mike say to his mom and dad? He couldn't leave Nora behind. They were supposed to stick together if they didn't have after-school activities.
"No, I'll stay," he said, frowning. He jammed his fingers into his pockets and waited while Nora and Coco — plus Ellie and Ana — put the finishing touches on their snowman. Instead of a carrot, they ended up using an orange marker.
Okay, he was an awesome snowman, Mike had to admit. But did it really have to take so long? He'd probably be melted by Monday.
When they finally left the playground, Mike and Nora were cold and wet. Pretty soon, it would be dark.
"What's the rush? What's so important?" Nora said as they hurried across the street.
"Did you hear about the talent show?" Mike blurted out. "We can do a magic act! And I've already been thinking about the tricks. We can do the Balloon Pop and the Coin Drop. Plus some others, I guess. The first practice is after school on Monday." He was talking so fast, he was already out of breath.
All Mike could hear was the sound of Nora's boots, crunching in the snow.
She was much too quiet.
Sometimes Nora's family went away on the weekends, skiing or to museums in Boston. "Will you be here?" he asked nervously.
Nora's boots kept crunching. "I think so," she said. She was a little ahead of him, not meeting his gaze. "It's just that ... what if I don't want to be in the talent show, Mike?"
Was she speaking a foreign language? "Why wouldn't you want to be in the talent show?" he asked.
But he already knew the answer. It was all his fault! He'd rushed her off the playground, and now she was mad.
"I'm really sorry!" Mike said, trying to keep up with her. "I was so excited. I couldn't wait to tell you!"
"No, it's not that," said Nora. She was staring at the sidewalk. "I just don't like the whole idea. It's pretty different from doing magic on the playground, you know? At night, in the gym, with people's parents there ... I have stage fright just thinking about it."
Mike's jaw dropped, like Lucas's.
Did she really just say that?
"There's nothing to be afraid of," he said in a rush. "It's our big chance! We'll be the center of attention in a good way. We'll amaze the whole school!"
He thought about standing on the stage in the gym. He'd been there before, for school concerts. The music teacher was always mouthing the same words, pointing to her eyes: "Look at me, Mike. Focus!"
In the talent show, though, he could do things his own way. Mike wasn't usually overflowing with confidence, but he had confidence in this. He knew he could do it. It could be the best act in the whole show, he thought. He really needed Nora!
"You have to be in the talent show," he said desperately. "We're partners!"
Nora finally turned to look at him. "Partners decide together," she said. "And I don't want to do it."
For the rest of their walk, there was an icy silence. Then Nora walked up the stairs to his house and opened the door like nothing was wrong. Talk about a great performance.
Mike's dad smiled at her, as usual. His parents loved Nora. Mr. Weiss made hot chocolate and asked them questions about their day. "I met my new book buddy," Nora said politely. She didn't look at Mike, or mention the talent show. She asked what Mike's dad was cooking for dinner. "Smells delicious," she said, and suddenly Mike's dad was sharing his secret recipe for hamburgers.
Nora doesn't care about impressing kids at school, Mike thought. She impresses people every day. Even her snowman was perfect! Everything she does is magic.
It was different for him, though. He had only one talent — and only one chance to show it off for a crowd.
Couldn't Nora see that? Maybe she wasn't as smart as he thought.
She's not going to stop me, Mike thought suddenly. She can't stop me!
He'd thought that Nora was the perfect partner. Trustworthy, smart, and fun.
But she's not the only partner out there, right? Mike thought.
If I can't have Nora, I'll just have to find someone else.
Excerpted from The Disappearing Magician by Kate Egan, Mike Lane, Eric Wight. Copyright © 2015 Kate Egan and Mike Lane. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Reading Buddies,
Chapter 2: A Surprise,
Chapter 3: Playdate,
Chapter 4: Partners,
Chapter 5: First Rehearsal,
Chapter 6: Helping Nora,
Chapter 7: Saving Lucas,
Chapter 8: Practice Makes Perfect,
Chapter 9: The Big Night,
Chapter 10: Showtime,
About the Authors,