Library helps children ‘get a clue’


By Christie Barlow
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The library holds just as many secrets as it does books and Al Yountz is trying to deliver that message to kids across North Carolina.

This summer, Yountz, known as the Amazing Al, will be traveling all over North Carolina performing his “Get A Clue About Magic” program, which will make a stop at the Harrisburg library on Friday, June 22 from 2 to 3 p.m.

Yountz performs around five tricks and then breaks them down for participants to learn. The goal of the program is to show kids the different things they can learn from books, Yountz said. The program targets younger teens and encourages them to get involved at their library.

“(Teens are) at a time that they can become very cynical and there’s nothing that really draws in their interest,” Yountz said. “A magic show is simplistic in nature, but it draws them in because all the tricks are geared toward teens.”

Yountz focuses on introducing the basics of magic — sleight of hand, based on the principle that the hand moves faster than the eye, misdirection, how to distract the audience from what you’re doing, and force magic, getting someone to pick a card or item that you want them to despite the illusion of free will.

Jeff Wilkinson saw Yountz perform at the Iredell County Public library and said that Yountz was a terrific performer. He kept the kids interested and involved in the program and managed to make the adults laugh as well.

“It was great,” Wilkinson said. “I didn’t know too much about it,( but) it’s been really good. I’ve enjoyed it and I think (my daughter’s) really enjoyed it. He’s really kept the kids into the show.”

Yountz uses items and props that you can find around the house and at little cost. He wants to make the program something kids can use when they go home. His ultimate goal is to get kids excited about the different things they can learn in their library. His message, “Through books you can get a clue about what you want to do when you grow up.” It is a message that is close to his heart and has him dedicating his summer to performing in around 118 libraries taking him from the western part of North Carolina all the way to the Outer Banks.

Books introduced Yountz to magic and entertainment. As a child, when Yountz wanted to go somewhere, he got there through books. Growing up his family didn’t have a lot of money. Yountz and his mother would go to the library where he would spend hours escaping into books. When he came across a book about clowns and the circus, Yountz knew he had found something special. He told his mother he was going to be a clown. After attending Appalachian State University, Yountz fulfilled his childhood ambition and attended Clown College.

He spent years traveling the world and performing as a clown in the circus. He has performed for Disney, on Comedy Central and Fox News among other TV and radio programs. Today, Yountz travels and works doing motivational speaking and comedy shows. For Yountz, the key to it all is making people laugh, lighten up and enjoy their lives, he said.

“I got my start in a library, that’s where I discovered the circus,” Yountz said. “I want to share that with others.”

Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

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