Book Review: 'Grandpa Magic'

Apr 4, 2019

Allan Kronzek, a professional magician who lives in Sag Harbor, has pulled off a wonderful trick – writing a how-to book for grandparents that’s designed to connect them with their grandkids. Called “Grandpa Magic,” but intended also for Grandmas, the book declares that its 116 amazing brain teasers, perplexing puzzles and simple stunts will wow kids of all ages. And lure them away from their digital devices for a while.

Kronzek hopes to engage kids in an imaginative world full of mystery, secrecy and surprise. Not to mention introducing or reinforcing motor and cognitive skills, along with the fun. “Mentoring a kid in magic is different from sharing any other pursuit,” he says. Magic is more than a collection of tricks and secrets. “It’s a rich, creative art with affinities to acting, writing, psychology, science, and math – all areas where the generations might connect.”

It’s not just what Kronzek presents here, though, that’s impressive – from easy tricks for the 6 and under set, “believers” – those who will think Grandpa has magical powers – to “cranial challenges” for the Skeptics, the kids who have already said goodbye to Santa and the Tooth Fairy. What’s wonderful about the book is its playful tone. Kronzek affects a style at once affectionate, witty, humorous, sensitive, patient and appreciative of what it means to be young. The descriptions are crystal clear, the illustrations deliciously whimsical.

He winks, as he encourages grandparents to follow what The Great Zucchini does with coins, cards, toothpicks and more. The tricks include how to hypnotize a napkin, bounce a dinner roll off the floor, remove your thumb, make a spoon cry, even read minds. And he suggests some great patter grandparents can use along the way. Almost every trick can be done on the spur of the moment, no special equipment needed. Straws get a whole chapter. Did we know that one Marvin Chester Stone invented the modern drinking straw in 1888 (his dad had invented the cheese press and washing machines)? So here are straw tricks, including the “disgusting” how to shove a straw up your nose and pull it from your mouth trick. A magician never tells, but if a grandchild really wants to know the secret so he or she can perform it, “share.”

Kronzek says kids show no slowing down in their reliance on electronic devices. “Deep down,” Kronzek says, they crave real-world, in-person experiences. They want something live, something real, something special. Grandparents can provide (parents, too, of course) and magic can be the means.

Performing magic is also good for the soul. “It builds confidence and self-esteem and is a proven way to coax shy ones out of the shadows and into the limelight.” And what if the kids are not interested? So what. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And who knows. Though Kronzek doesn’t says so, this delightful book could also connect older adults.