“So there you are, sitting around the table with the family. The grandkids are glued to their devices.” So begins “Grandpa Magic” (Workman Publishing, $16.95), a new book by Sag Harbor magician Allan Zola Kronzek, meant to persuade the grandkids to put down their smart phones and connect with the older generation.
“I’ve been asked, ‘How can you compete with their devices? They want to be on their phones playing their games,’” says Kronzek, 77. “It turns out magic wins every time.”
The book cover boasts “116 easy tricks, amazing brainteasers and simple stunts to wow the grandkids.” They include making a spoon cry, turning a dinner napkin into a walking chicken, making a straw disappear up your nose, and more. The book also includes duo magic acts for the grandparent and grandchild to perform for the rest of the family, with the grandchild in the starring role of a psychic named “The Great Zucchini” — or whatever stage name your duo comes up with.
“I think of the book as a giant toybox that any grandma or grandpa can dip into at any time and engage the kids,” Kronzek says. He says he’s been asked “so many times” by grandparents to teach them a trick they could show their grandkids that his wife, Ruby Jackson, suggested he write “Grandpa Magic.”
Kronzek is the author of previous books on magic, including "The Sorcerer's Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter," which he co-authored with his Southern California-based daughter, Elizabeth, and which has sold more than 1 million copies in 14 languages worldwide. He doesn't have grandchildren, though he says he is "grandparent age" and has lots of relatives to whom he is the "grand uncle."
“Kids really like to think, that’s the truth of it, and they like to figure things out,” Kronzek says. “If you say to a kid, ‘You want to see something amazing? You want to see a magic trick?’ The answer 90 percent of the time is, ‘Yes, I do.’ When you do something live and in person that’s amazing, the kids will just light up. These kinds of experiences are bonding and create a lot of memories.”