The Big Race, Cakes & Adders, Human Xylophone:

Norden and Gordon have produced more than half a dozen conventions over the years. In April this year they will be doing their third PCAM and first CAM with the combined PCAM/CAM 2017. In this issue we review tricks from some of the talent that will be appearing at the convention. Check out this amazing line up at www.PCAM2017.com

The Big Race – by John Kimmons (Kimmo)
$155.00 US

About a year ago I started working on a new theme for my show, and I’ve been looking at tricks I can work into this theme. It’s still a work in progress, and probably will be for a long time, but it’s theming tricks and routines around a character.

Mainly through Facebook discussions I’ve heard about so many people who play games as part of their show, and frankly I’ve been resistant to it. But I’ve been a fan of John Kimmons (Kimmo) for a long time, and when he released The Big Race it got my attention. Then he released another version of it and announced more versions to come with themes around special holidays. That’s when the obvious realization hit me, this is a perfect trick to customize!

I already owned his lecture notes that explain it all and include artwork you need to create his original version if you prefer to make it over purchasing it fully ready from him. In order to customize it, it didn’t take me long to create the graphics I needed (actually I purchased most of the graphics I needed), then I purchased the white board required and headed down to my local print shop to explain what I needed them to do. As an aside, do yourself a favour and try to establish a relationship with a local print shop, I love the one I go to and they seem to take great interest in what I’ll bring them next and accept it as a personal challenge to do a great job for me.

Be warned, in my opinion it’s not worth making this yourself if your objective is to save money. Add up the cost of buying everything you need and getting things printed, even if you use the artwork Kimmo supplies, and you’ll find that just purchasing it from him is a good deal (I believe you can also purchase them from Ken Scott in the USA).

There is nothing difficult about the game or routine itself, but I still managed to mess it up. But, I knew I had messed it up and having read Kimmo’s lecture notes I was prepared on how to handle it and nobody ended up knowing I messed up and everything ended up working out exactly the way it was supposed to.

I was performing it for an audience of about a hundred people. I had two volunteers on stage, one child who was competing and another whose job was to stand there holding the game board and looking handsome. Both of them had fun, I had huge audience participation and interaction, and the child competing on stage won a prize for himself and for my other volunteer.

The only reason I can think to not rate this 100% is because I don’t want everyone else doing it, but at least mine is customized and one of a kind, so I give this

Gordon - 100%

This is my new closer. It is such an amazing way to end a birthday party, or any show for that matter. Here is what happens.

A child takes on three adults in a themed race game. Despite what seems like totally fair conditions, the child wins every time! 24 cards are handed out to be FREELY AND GENUINELY SHUFFLED by spectators. Meanwhile, a child is recruited and is told that he/she must take part in a snowman race against three adults. There is fun and byplay as the rivals are chosen and encouraged to 'trash talk' the young volunteer. The adults get to choose their favourite colour (there is no force whatsoever). The child must take whichever colour is left.

The cards are retrieved and then the WACKY RACE begins!

One by one, cards are taken from the top of the stack and turned over to reveal the colour which will move along the track. The race gets very exciting and the children raise the roof in response. It looks like the child is lagging behind but then suddenly jumps forward and catches up. Maybe a photo finish will be required! Everything rests on the turn of one card!

That's the gist of the trick from John's website. It works just like it says. It's a photo finish every time. There is very little work needed – just one move that might now even be required. And it's all done before the trick begins. It really is ingenious. Some might say this does not feel like a magic trick – but I say even if it does not, it adds a game / challenge / audience cheering element to your show. 5-8 minutes of fun to end your show where the child walks away with a prize. A prize with all your info on it, of course!

The quality is amazing. The magnets are durable and the cards will last a long time. The graphics are top notch. The Race comes in many versions:

  • The Fish Race
  • The Spooky Race (Halloween)
  • The Winter Race (Christmas)
  • The Space Race
  • The Book Race (Library Show) - created by Ken Scott - www.KenScottProducts.com


I own FOUR of them. Yes, four – two double sided sets. It's in every show. And you can always customize your OWN race. I cannot recommend this any higher. The price is high, but this will keep it out of the hands just the curious. SO, yes – here it comes – I give this:

Norden - 100%

64209 NRG100s 


Cakes & Adders – by Gary Dunn
$33.50 US

If you like kids to sit silently through your show while you amaze them with sleight of hand and your awesome technical skills, this might not be for you. But if you like a magical routine that will have the kids laughing out loud, pointing and shouting, and maybe yelling a little, this most definitely is for you.

I love this trick. Straight out of the package just perform it the way Gary Dunn teaches and you have a winner. Similar in appearance to some other “comeback” card routines, but with simplified handling, and with patter that makes total sense at a birthday party. It takes up no space in your case but supplies huge laughs and interaction with the kids.

Nice quality cards, attractive and easy to see graphics, simple handling with a well-known principle, this is a great price for the entertainment you will get out of it. Not much more to say other than I give this

Gordon - 99%


This trick is based on the fact that there are candles for your cake. As you count out the candles and show them…one, two, three, four – the kids then scream ‘SNAKE!”. You reply no,no – CAKE! No, it’s a SNAKE! AHHHH! You get rid of the snake card and go back to counting the candles, now with one less candle, but that’s ok – and the snake appears again! You get rid of him and do it again – yikes – the snake is back again! Get rid of him! You do it again and….is there a ….no, you can’t look….oh whew…it’s the CAKE! Good thing that snake is gone…as you turn around the kids see it’s on your back!

The cards are gimmicked and the handling makes this routine a breeze. In fact I like the method so much I altered another trick to make it as simple as this one. The cards are well made, the DVD is great, and it all comes packaged very nicely. Gary really gets some mileage out of the trick in the videoa and it will inspire you to get as good as him! It plays for a good 4-5 minutes and it gets the audience involved. I give it:

Norden - 93%

64209 NRG96s 


Human Xylophone – by Keith Fields

Here’s another very entertaining routine for the family audience. You get 8 volunteers up on stage for a ton of fun, each one is given a metal chime and a wooden spoon. You arrange them in the correct order, having fun along the way, and then start playing some songs.

The first time I saw Keith perform this I knew it was a winner and I bought it immediately. The entertainment value is really dependant on your ability to choose your volunteers wisely and then think on your feet and interact with the volunteers. One time Keith had me laughing so hard that tears started to form.

It comes with enough songs to get you going, but I also found that there are many sources for more songs that can be played with 8 notes in order to add to your repertoire. You can play it straight and have fun, but learn from Keith’s ability to get so much more out of it.

I give it:

Gordon – 93%

Six years ago I attended KIDabra in Tennessee. This was my first time seeing Keith Fields lecture. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. His lecture was fantastic – but when he performed the Human Xylophone in the evening show – I was in stitches! I also happened to be one of the helpers on stage, and got to see the maestro work up close.

If you want to FILL the stage and have eight helpers, with a mixture of kids of all ages, and throw in an adult or two – plus have a quality 10 minutes of fun and laughter…then buy this routine. I say routine again because there isn’t a magic trick – more of a magical performance. However, just like Kimmo’s The Big Race, I think something like is needed in every show to break up the magic trick after magic trick. Now, I will admit that this stayed in my magic drawer for 2 years as I was a little scared of how much effort and memory work would be needed to pull this off and have it play as good as Keith does it.

I was looking for a closer for my fair and festival shows – and I was correct – it just took me time to dive into it. As it turns out, it’s not as hard as I thought. There are some great and easy cheat sheets. And really, messing up can make it even funnier. Actually you NEED a few scripted mess up pieces to get it to work perfectly. After a dozen performances my confidence was 100% and I was able to milk it for all it’s worth. I used it in my festivals for about 3 years now, and just recently replaced it with Doug Scheers new Punctuation Pandemonium. It’s always great to vary your shows, and while I love the Human Xylophone, and I know it will come back to my shows , it does take up room in my case. Nothing can be done about that – and it’s worth the space! Other than that tiny flaw – it’s a great performance piece I think you should consider adding to your stage show. Keith and others use it in birthday parties – I never did that – but the birthday song is a perfect fit for the pipes!

The price is again put to keep the curious away – but this is that type of trick that WILL differentiate you from your competition. People will ask “Are you the one that has the kids play the pipes with spoons?” Why, yes – I am.

Norden – 95%

64209 NRG94s 


Norden & Gordon have a combined experience of over 35 years, 5000 shows, and 50 international awards for their magic. They are experts in the fields of kids magic and own way to much stuff.


0-25% = Poor product and highly recommend against purchase
26-50% = Fair product. Purchase at own risk
50-75% = Good product. Recommend with conditions
75-85% = Great product. Recommend to purchase.
85-95% = Fantastic – highly recommended!
96-100% = Just buy it. Really.

If you have a product to review please mail it to:

Mike Norden
PO Box 1135
Sumas, WA
98295 USA