Totally Useless Skills by Rick Davis, 1994.

The name of this book is intentionally deceptive, but only partly.  What I mean by that is that the little tricks and stunts in the book may not have much of a practical application except for just having fun and amusing your friends, but the techniques for learning them can be applied to learning just about anything.

This book describes how to do fun tricks that don’t require any special equipment and are mostly based upon knowing things work, like the blind spot in the human eye (such as using the blind spot in your eye to make it look like your teacher’s head has vanished) and where your center of balance is (used in the trick showing how a girl can pick up a chair when a boy can’t). The tricks include making it look like your arms are lengthening or shrinking, making it look like you’ve broken your nose, how to hang a spoon from your nose, how to jump through a single sheet of paper, how to make a pencil float, how to make your leg disappear, and how to pronounce the longest word in the English language.


Kids will enjoy learning these little tricks to entertain their friends. However, the book also contains useful tips for learning these skills that can be used to learn anything you want to learn. The author emphasizes the importance of trying new things, practicing what you’ve learned, going slowly and dividing big tasks into smaller ones when trying to master something difficult, and making tasks interesting so they will be easier to learn. Aside from the fun of learning these little tricks, the book’s main purpose seems to be helping kids to develop self-confidence and new learning skills.



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