Lots of magic at the library

Castlegar News
August 18, 2004
By Dale West

Kids can conjure up a host of magic words at the drop of a hat and did for Norden the Magician at the Castlegar and District Public Library Friday morning: abracadabra, bibbity boppity boo, open sesame. Norden offered them a few special words of his own, I Love to Read, and performed a magic show that encouraged kids to do just that.

Norden entertained a special session of the Castlegar and Blueberry summer reading programs in hilarious fashion, with slapstick humour and magic tricks that had kids laughing and highly involved. Disappearing flowers, magic wands that went limp in the hand of his young assistant from the audience, peanut butter and jelly jars that magically switched places, even a “world famous” wiener dog given to an assistant who was afraid it might pop. (Norden guaranteed that the little misshapen dog would only pop once.)

A few bright wags figured they had Norden on his egg and handkerchief trick. Their perceptiveness was affirmed when he showed the group how the trick was done using a hollow egg and a little slight of hand. But magic being magic, even the most doubting Thomas was left jaw ajar when the magician took the fake egg and cracked it into a container to reveal a yoke.

Norden had a book prop for most of his tricks, telling his young audience much of what he knew he had learned from books, whether it was gardening, cooking or magic. He had three book related messages for the young audience: read everyday, read and you can be anything you want to be when you grow up, and take care of your library books. He demonstrated his point about book care by following instructions from a magic book for one trick he performed. At a crucial stage in the trick he “discovered” that a page had been torn from the book. The young audience quickly got the point about not spoiling books by writing in them, ripping pages out or generally abusing them. Just as quickly they arrived at a solution for Norden’s missing page dilemma: use magic!

After calming the kids down, and instructing them to leave only with a parent or guardian, Mike Norden explained that he has and will be performing his reading-oriented show at libraries across the province. Theming a show for a library audience is relatively easy, he said. “Like the peanut butter and jelly trick I do at birthday parties, add a cooking book, and presto, library.”

“The egg trick is just a trick. It’s the first trick I learned and I read it in a book.” There are some tricks to doing tricks in the library with a young audience. Being prepared is one. Norden brings books into the show area to avoid a rush of kids back into the library afterwards. Crowd control is important too, so he literally draws the line right from the outset of the show, telling kids to have fun but stay behind the line (a green rope), pay attention and no talking. Interestingly, Norden has found that more kids are easier to control than less. “You would think it would be the other way … 20 can be impossible, give me 200, not a problem.”

“If I had 15 four and five year olds, that could be a disaster. But if I had 80 kids, and were four and five year olds, not a problem. The younger kids follow the example of the older kids.”