The Disappearing Act (Teeny Houdini #1)

by Katrina Moore (Author) Zoe Si (Illustrator)

The Disappearing Act (Teeny Houdini #1)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Teeny Houdini

Meet Bessie Lee! The Teeny Houdini chapter book series from author Katrina Moore and illustrator Zoe Si begins with a simply magical story. 

Bessie Lee might be the teeniest in her first-grade class, but with the tap-tap-tap of her wand, some glitter, and a little magic . . . she's going to dazzle the crowds to win the school talent show. But when a trick goes disastrously wrong, Rufus, the class hamster, disappears! Can Bessie find a way to bring him back in time? Or is Rufus truly gone forever? Teeny Houdini, also known as Bessie Lee, is an overly excited, mischievous first grader who bounces off the walls--and off the page--with her volume, enthusiasm, and grand ideas, which are just too big for her tiny frame. Bessie's multigenerational Chinese American family is the warm center of the stories, from exasperated but loving big sister Bailey to the always encouraging and understanding Gramma.

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Bessie Lee is a hilarious, delightfully imperfect narrator, and the family dynamics are kind and true. Proof that the smallest stature can contain a huge imagination and an even bigger heart.

Publisher's Weekly

Moore and Si collaborate on a chapter book series starter, introducing the exuberant first grader Bessie Lee, who is of Chinese descent and "likes to be fancy." When her teacher announces that the First Grade Talent Show is happening in a mere week, engaging narrator Bessie sees it as a grand opportunity to escape her "too teeny" reputation-she’s sick of being shut out of "big-kid stuff" and to have to "sneaky-listen" to be part of her fifth-grader sister Bailey’s world. "If I win the talent show, everyone will think I am big, too." The high-energy child digs through her favorite pastimes ("cut and style Bailey’s Barbies’ hair, play with Baby Rabbit, and put crayons into Gramma’s soup so it turns rainbow colors") to find her talent, and settles on a magical disappearing act. But mischief and mishaps abound before all ends well. Short, episodic chapters move quickly alongside Si’s stylized illustrations of the protagonist’s ethnically inclusive community and domestic life, making Bessie Lee’s forthcoming exploits ones to look forward to. Ages 6-10. 

Copyright 2022 Publisher’s Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
January 20, 2022
Teeny Houdini
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 12/01/21

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