Jon McGoran
Jon McGoran talks about his new book, Spliced.

Common Core State Standards
I Like to Read Books
Holiday House eBooks


Buy the Book:
Barnes & Noble

How to Order

Read an Excerpt

Educators' Guide

CCSS Questions


The Bullet Catch
Murder by Misadventure
by Amy Axelrod and David Axelrod

Trade Binding | 320 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 | US$ 17.95
ISBN: 9780823428588 | 03-15-2015

Also available as an ebook.

Grade: SIXTH | Age: 10 to 14

Themes: Adventure, Mystery & Suspense, 20th Century, Coming of Age
Recommendations: A, K, PW

CCSS Codes:
W.6.6, 7, 9, 9a, 10
L.6.3, 4, 4a, 5, 5a-c,6
SL.6.1, 1a, 1b, 1d, 3-6

About the Book

This spellbinding novel chronicles the coming-of-age of a resourceful young man who must refashion his destiny amid murder and misadventure in the golden age of magic.

When the orphanage he called home burns to the ground, 14-year-old Leo and his three friends turn to larceny to survive. Leo proves to be a most gifted pickpocket, but when he is cruelly betrayed by his gang, he abandons the life of crime to become the apprentice of a has-been magician named Barzini.

With help from the great Harry Houdini, Barzini is staging a comeback, complete with an improved variation on the bullet catch trick made famous by his arch enemy, Chung Ling Soo. He wants more than to just outshine his old rival; he is out for revenge. As Leo struggles to escape his dangerous past, he must confront the possibility that his new mentor may be even more dangerous.


"The mother-and-son writing team brings the setting to life, including such luminaries of the time as Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as minor characters for verisimilitude. The inside knowledge of magic adds an exotic touch. An absorbing mystery enhanced by its intriguing backdrop."—Kirkus Reviews

"Beyond the entertaining smoke and mirrors, the novel offers substantive food for thought regarding loyalty, trust, forgiveness, and redemption.—Publishers Weekly


Read an exclusive Q&A with co-authors Amy Axelrod and David Axelrod!

Classroom Discussion Questions with CCSS:

1. Describe how the plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution. What is meant by "Murder by Misadventure"? RL.6-8.1, 3

2. What are the themes or central ideas of THE BULLET CATCH: MURDER BY MISADVENTURE? How are the themes conveyed through details in the text? RL.6-8.2

3. How do the authors use fiction and nonfiction elements in the book? How does the style contribute to the authors' message and the overall effect? W.6-8.9

4. What kinds of comparisons are made that add layers to the meaning of THE BULLET CATCH? Analyze the impact of specific word choices on the meaning and tone of the story. Find examples of how the authors use figurative language, including metaphor, simile, hyperbole and allusion. RL.6-8.4 / L.6-8.5

Educators' Guide
BULLET CATCH, THE: Murder by Misadventure
Educator's Guide featuring questions for classroom discussion and suggestions for further exploration. Includes connections to the Common Core State Standards.