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Terrible Wizard
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Hi folks!

I'm pretty new to this area of the café, and to this type of magical entertainment. I'm a hobbyist, but I'm starting on an exploration of this area of magic - and who knows, if I like it and seem good at it, I may join you Smile

But as part of my journey into new waters I need to ask some beginner questions. I have lots of questions, and so I apologise in advance for the various dumb questions I'm going to ask over the next few months. Rather than just a single thread with a hundred questions, I thought it would be better if I had a separate thread for each one. There's no real logical order to these questions Smile

So, my three part query:
a) I'm aware that there appears to be a division amongst children's entertainers/magi regarding the traditional colouring book trick. Some think it's overdone and hackneyed, some think its still viable with the right presentation. What are your thoughts on this?

b) I'm assuming that it's only really effective with the younger kids (under 6?); what's your experience with this?

c) Assuming I think it's worth working at, what specific props and specific routines would you suggest I look into when building my own colouring book routine?

Thanks in advance! Smile
arthur stead
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It's true that many people think the coloring book is jaded, and that it's best used for preschool ages. But any magic prop's effectiveness ultimately depends on the way it is used in your presentation. So even the lowly coloring book can appear to be a miracle if the performer's routine is scripted intelligently.

For example, for one of our elementary school shows we use the coloring book in an original routine about the benefits of reading. We perform it to a unique, custom-written music track which enhances the audience participation parts, and heightens the magical climax of the trick. We've never failed to get enthusiastic ooh's and aah's from students and teachers alike.

For a fun, non-educational presentation (which includes several other props such as a hair brush, silks and a change bag), see The Birthday Magician's Handbook by Dave Fiscus.
Arthur Stead
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Presentation matters - your patter and the book you use

my favourite style currently is the "Axtel Puppet" one that can be used to force a puppet that you then unveil from an Axtel Green Machine or Practical Magic's "Bingley Brothers Circus."

But I've also seen a mentalist use three colouring books to force a tune that he reveals by playing on a clarinet. To a room full of adults who never guessed how he did it.

There's always new ways of dressing up an old trick. Just don't blindly follow the instructions they come with.
Have wand will travel! Performing children's magic in the UK for Winter 2014 and Spring 2015.
Dick Oslund
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Yes! "It" was originally called the "blowing book". IIRC it was in Scot's "Discovery of Witchcraft" (500 years ago)

I would not use "THE MAGIC COLORING BOOK", unless you change the covers. (Not difficult)

Donald Dunphy
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Cody Fisher also offers an interesting presentation for the Coloring Book, called "3 Kid Monte":

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
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As has already been stated - performance, performance, performance. Changing eth cover and patter is also essential. I used to do a Three-Book Monte, using three medium sized coloring books. Two were supposedly blank, while a third was full color pictures. It eliminated the double-change aspect and switches the onus to a three-card-monte perspective, instead of the book being magic.

A lot of great suggestions in this thread!
Magically Yours,

Magical Michael Smile Laus Deo!
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Hi. Original poster wrote;

"I'm pretty new to this area of the café, and to this type of magical entertainment. I'm a hobbyist... "
I suggest start with the traditional book and routine. As a 'beginner' in the field you are otherwise going to delay getting into performing for kids. A person can get enticed into all kinds of diversions. Get going on the performing.

"Some think it's overdone and hackneyed" If it's new to the children you are entertaining, it wont be overdone for them, or hackneyed.
Even the kids who have seen it before will enjoy 'seeing it again', excited at knowing what happens even though they don't really know how.
I buy a similar-art ordinary coloring book and give that out to the birthday child at the end of the routine as a gift for the Birthday Child.
The presentation makes the magic.
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A) Every time I get the impression that a trick is overdone or "hackneyed" (I love that term!), someone comes up with a brilliant routine that breathes new life into the effect and makes me jealous that I didn't think of it.

B) Depending on the approach, it can work for kids of many ages and adults as well. Indeed, they have adult themed ones out there, somewhere...but that's for a different thread.

C) The general heuristic to use is to make it as interactive as you can. Younger kids respond well to throwing colors at the book, for example. You really don't need any additional props, but the book itself (though I've often liked having kids rub the books with scarves that I produced earlier in the show).
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A Show By Joe
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Like Magicol stated, "If it's new to the children you are entertaining, it won't be overdone". I love doing this trick for kids no older than 8. As with anything else, it is all in the presentation. I have done shows where kids that have seen me do it before, and ask for me to do it again. I have a routine that I do that lasts around 8 minutes in length. As with anything with this age, lots of participation and "laughs per minute" (Silly Billy) goes along way.
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Take a look at Chris Capehart's presentation, great if you can pull it off.
Terrible Wizard
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Great and quick responses - what a positive area of the café Smile

Thanks for the input so far. And please keep it coming.

I think I'm sold on the idea that using the colouring book is fine, and that a good presentation can make it a wonderful piece of magical entertainment. I sense a Christmas purchase ... Smile

More suggestions as to the particular make/brand of book, and DVDs/books containing good routines will be useful.
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Our coloring book presentation is about 5 minutes long, including a book of scribbles in addition to the usual blank and colored pages. It's an iteractive routine with the vanishing crayons, a banana, and a carrot. Kids love it, and parents look mystifed during the routine. I took it out for awhile, and people started asking for it. So, even though I personally feel it's a little hokey, it's in the show. And since it almost packs flat, it's growing on me.

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If you aren't afraid of a little work, try making one yourself. Go to the local toy or book store and ask what the big sellers are for children's coloring books this year. That will save a lot of research and start you off with the latest trends in coloring books. Buy several so you can make mistakes and learn as you go. Directions are found in my "Coloring Book Revisited"in the Kid Show Magic section at The Magic Nook, including making the various props that go along with a coloring book routine, like crayons that vanish and then reappear and such. Don't forget to buy some good quality crayons, because you'll need to revert to your "inner child" and spend some time re-learning how to color inside the lines. In the same section (Kid Show Magic) there is a much easier version called the "Coloring Card" which doesn't require hours of crayon coloring work. It makes a good alternate for the Coloring Book.
Howie Diddot
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My coloring book routine involves using six non-gimmicked coloring book and blindfolding the entire audience; this avoids the problem of the need to change the front and back cover.

After every man, women and child is blindfolded the six strippers enter the stage and each stripper picks up a coloring book and holds the book in front of them in the flipping position with all hands in the uncolored page position.

I commissioned an orchestra to record the William Tell Overture as the background music for the routine.

As the music begins and the multicolored lights are turned on, I pick a child as a volunteer from the audience and dress the child in a tux for the Instant Magician segment of the routine and then I pick up my hatchet that serves as my magic wand and start the routine; the routine is about six minutes and I time the ending to have the big reveal in unison with the six coloring books that the strippers are flipping in the color mode; the head chopper blade dropping along with the final notes of the background music.

Like jimhlou, I also took it out of by show because the strippers were always complaining about something; but pleas from my fans was extraordinary demanding that I place it back into the show, so I did

Terrible Wizard,

The only recommendation I can suggest, is that if you’re going to use a coloring book in your show, it has to be a unique presentation.
Terrible Wizard
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Lol, fair enough Howie Smile
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FYI, there are 2 types of disapearing crayons that I've seen. One uses real crayons but they will fall apart over time or even melt on a hot day. The other are fake plastic one that don't look very real. The other issue is that they aren't very big so not as visual and can't be seen as well by bigger groups. So use disapearing markers - they are bigger - they last forever. You can make them yourself and they used to sell them but I don't know if they still do. I have a routine that I may market at some point.
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I would recommend that anyone new to children's entertainment first educate yourself on as many different ways to use/ present any prop so that when the time comes you can choose the props and way you use them to best entertain your audiences. This will depend on your business model. Many of the recommendations here are given from the perspective of the way the individual incorporated (or chose not to) the prop into their particular show(s). Until you have more experience learning the field, you are not ready to decide your business model and therefore cannot know your audience. Do not rule props in or out at this point. Much of the props I currently use were not ones I used when I first started, and even the ones I use are used in a different way, now that I have established my business model, know my audience, and have better refined the show structure.
Terrible Wizard
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Good point Charlie - there has to be time for exploration and review. Where can I find some good routines to play with, in your opinion?
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Colouring book trick - It's overdone, but it can still work. I'd try doing it and judge for yourself. Most kids 4-5 probably have never seen a magician, so an "old" or "tired" trick is still new to them. Heck, they play "Peek-a-boo" and have a heck of a good time, and that's pretty hack, wouldn't you say?

Younger kids (under 6?) - I agree to a degree. It's all about the presentation, If it's just the typical coloring book, then yes. If you disguise it, them maybe you can pull it off for an older age group. For example, I think it was in Mark Wilson's book that he made it into a Stamp Album (the album is shown empty, the loose collection of stamps vanish, stamps are found neatly pasted into the album). That's just an example; today's kids may not know much about stamps and stamp collecting.

c) Assuming I think it's worth working at, what specific props and specific routines would you suggest I look into when building my own colouring book routine? Maybe look at none of them. Think about WHY a book may look different at different times. It doesn't have to be about color; it could be a printing routine, or a magic book of spells that only kids who know the magic words can see, or maybe tell a funny story about yourself and how YOU couldn't see the pictures even though everyone else could, etc.
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The coloring book is always in my case a go to routine if something goes wrong. Unless I've made a customized version for a themed show, I don't usually do it.

Silly Billy's routine is incredibly fun to perform, even if the kids 'know' what's going to happen. That said, I don't usually do the trick for ages older than 6.

Danny Orleans has a wonderful presentation that uses a custom book that doesn't need a duplicate book to make it. I've made up several versions for themed shows (an autumn version for a Fall Fun show, a summer/beach one for a Summer Fun show, etc)

Jim Kleefeld uses the coloring book principle in many different ways, usually to effect a 'force' as some others have indicated, or to show that you knew who was going to end up with which of several 'different' books (e.g. one book is shown to have 'all' giraffes, while another has 'all' elephants.)

Chris Capehart's routine fits him perfectly, but is hard to duplicate, unless you've set up the right character.
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