Magic Around the World by Bill Ragsdale
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii November, 1994)
William Ragsdale is a Methodist pastor from North Carolina who is an experienced
children's magician. In this work, he describes in detail his school show, "Magic Around
the World," which is in essence a magic show disguised as an educational program, for
purposes more of marketing than of education. What value there is in this book will
mostly be found, I suspect, in the first five chapters of mostly practical information on
how to create, promote, and sell such a program. Clearly the author has had success with his efforts, and doubtless those who are interested in this type of work will benefit
from his experience.
The tricks are largely standard— Mutilated Parasol, Rigid Rope, Troublewit—but the
routines are capable. I must express certain reservations, however. While I am no
children's performer, I question if even a children's show should rely on so much humor
at the children's expense, complete with breakaway wands (sometimes repeated with the
same child!) and the like.
Moreover, I have known performers who are serious about educating, and educators
who are serious about performing. I have no objection to wandering off the subject—in
this case, essentially that of geography—but still, if one is even pretending to educate,
were I a parent of a child in Mr. Ragsdale's audience, I would hope that he could come
up with something about Brazil other than a story about cannibals and shrunken heads.
In the author's words, "There is much to learn about Brazil, like rain forests and the
Unfortunately, his next line is, "So much to learn, I'll leave it for you and another day."