Amy Kimlat, a native of Randallstown, Md., is hoping to bring a little magic to kids’ lives with her new book, “Hocus Pocus Practice Focus.” Aimed at children and featuring a foreword by famous magician David Copperfield, the book doubles as a novel about a girl striving to become a magician and a guide to several simple magic tricks for readers to try.
Kimlat, 38, drew from her personal experiences with magic while writing the book. She got into stage magic when she was in middle school, inspired by magicians like David Blaine to learn tricks and perform them in front of her friends.
“I think that a lot of kids naturally become interested in magic at some point in their childhood,” said Kimlat. “Magic is something that helps kids relate to other kids socially, and it’s always something to do and talk about.”
For a while, Kimlat stopped doing magic as she got older, citing a bad experience at a school performance, coupled with a lack of mentorship. She said she rediscovered stage magic as an adult thanks to her husband, “Penn & Teller Fool Us” champion, stage magician and motivational speaker Kostya Kimlat.
“Magic is a huge part of our lives. Before we had kids, I would sometimes perform with [Kostya], and we would do a mind-reading routine together,” she said.
Kimlat, a graduate of Beth Tfiloh class of 2002, and her husband have two children: Estelle, age 3, and Adelaide, who is 2.
She finished the first draft of “Hocus Pocus Practice Focus” in 2018 while accompanying her husband on tours and to several magic conventions. While the 40-page book is aimed at all children, Kimlat hopes to inspire young girls in particular to pursue magic.
“When I would go to these magic conventions, they were almost all men. There would be very few women there, and I started to think about why that is,” said Kimlat of what inspired her to write a book. “I started thinking about the real reasons, and in my mind, the biggest reason is a lack of role models and mentorship. Girls just don’t see a lot of women who are professional magicians; it’s not common enough that they are typically exposed to that.”
Kimlat now lives in Orlando, Fla., working for the local J Life Jewish magazine. While not a professional magician, she hopes that her book and the adventures of protagonist Mila inspire the next generation of women and teach them the art of persistence.
“I don’t think I had realized the importance of grit and persistence,” said Kimlat of why she first gave up on magic. “That’s something that I focused on in this book; it’s baked into the title. To be successful, you have to practice and focus; you don’t just jump on stage and say ‘hocus pocus.’ ”
“Hocus Pocus Magic Focus” was published on Oct. 25. It is available on Amazon or through Kimlat’s website: amykimlat.com.
Make a Toothpick Disappear!
By “Mila the Magnificent”
The first real magic trick I mastered was “The Disappearing Toothpick.” I practiced this trick over and over again while standing in front of the bathroom mirror, so I could see what my audience sees. I’m going to teach you how to perform this trick right now!
What You Need: A small piece of clear tape and a toothpick
#1: The Preparation: Place the toothpick along the back of your thumb. Then tape the toothpick to the back of your thumbnail.
#2: The Setup: Bend all your fingers in so that it looks like you’re holding the toothpick up straight. Make sure your index finger covers the tape.
#3: The Move: Quickly open both hands to show they are empty. The toothpick will be hidden behind your thumb, and your audience will think it has disappeared! Right before you open your hands, you can say “Hocus Pocus!”
#4: The Finish: Make the toothpick reappear. Reach your hand up and pretend you are catching the toothpick from the sky. Bend your thumb to make the toothpick reappear. Make sure your index finger covers the tape.
#5: The Practice: Keep going over this in front of the mirror. Make sure that the toothpick and tape aren’t seen by mistake. Ta-da!