LAURINBURG — Whether with delighted shrieks, gasps of wonder, or in dumbstruck awe, hundreds of children — and their parents — were enthralled by a performance of prestidigitation on Wednesday at Scotland County Memorial Library.
By way of greeting, Raleigh magician Jeff Jones showered the crowd with confetti and streamers. In his first visit to the library, Jones left no holds barred with exhibitions of psychic power and defiance of the laws of nature.
“Those little birds taste like chicken,” he joked after a pair of caged doves apparently vanished.
With his back turned, Jones called Rosa Page from the audience to color the outline of a superhero using her choice of markers. He then chose a child from the audience to unpack a shipping envelope, revealing a pair of blue shoes matching the picture’s, which elicited a spontaneous “shut up” from an onlooker.
To the further astonishment of both the children and adults watching, Jones peeled off his colorful suit to reveal a green shirt, red shorts, and orange socks — having dressed exactly as the drawing composed moments before.
Jones also accurately predicted two audience members’ ideal vacation spot and travelling companion and, directing librarian Denise Dunn to draw a bowling ball on a notebook, he added that “anything is possible with a little bit of magic in a marker.”
“You know guys, the really cool part about magic is that what you believe is real, is real,” Jones declared, raising the book to produce an actual, three-dimensional bowling ball.
For a finale, Jones called Page back to the front, where she lay supine on a table and though no one, including Page herself, could imagine how, was lifted more than a foot above it.
“It was scary, but it was fun,” Page said afterward. “It was magic.”
Autographing postcards for a clamoring crowd of children after his morning performance, Jones recalled his first foray into mastering magic tricks.
“When I was 7 years old I was really excited about magic, and I went to the local library in Lima, Ohio where I got a bunch of books and I just kept repeatedly getting those books over and over again,” he said. “It kind of turned from a passion into a performance, and my local library actually hired me to come and perform magic.”
In addition to performing at libraries, schools, and festivals, Jones also creates and produces effects for other performers worldwide.
“I just love inspiring kids to believe in their dreams,” he said. “The idea is that if you work really hard at it you can make it work, and kids need that kind of inspiration.”
Jones’ appearance was part of Scotland Memorial Library’s summer reading series, which runs through Aug. 5.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.