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Originally published Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 5:31 AM

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NW Books: a mysterious friendship, an art collection and something for kids

New books of Seattle interest: “Masters of Mystery,” “The Artist’s Hand,” “Perfectly Percy” and “Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems.”

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New releases

“Masters of Mystery: The Strange Friendship of Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini” by Christopher Sandford(Palgrave Macmillan, $17). New in paperback: an exploration of the oddball friendship that formed between two very different kinds of geniuses: the magician Harry Houdini and Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle. “Houdini’s and Conan Doyle’s life stories, together and separately, have been told before, but ‘Masters of Mystery’ is a worthy addition to the long shelf of existing work about these remarkable men,” wrote Seattle Times freelancer Adam Woog. Sandford splits his time between London and Seattle.

“The Artist’s Hand: American Works on Paper 1945-1975” by Chris Bruce and Virginia Wright (Museum of Art/Washington State University, $29.95). From the Washington Art Consortium comes a celebration of a historical art collection shared by seven museums throughout Washington state. The book includes essays about the founding of the collection and a catalog of the works.

“Perfectly Percy” by Paul Schmid (Harper, $16.99). For ages 3-6: Percy is a porcupine with a problem: He wants to play with balloons, but they always pop. Percy tries to think of a solution, but his only thought bubble comes up with ice cream. After thinking thoughts all day and all night, he is just about “out of thoughts” when he gets an idea. Seattle author/illustrator Schmid’s trademark sweet, simple drawings give Percy personality as he refuses to give up.

“Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems” by Jack Prelutsky (Greenwillow, $17.99). For ages 8-12: Prelutsky returns to his “Scranimals” theme of mixed-up creatures with poems highlighting such oddities as the “jollyfish,” which are “ebullient blobs of mirth,” and “braindeer,” whose minds are overflowing. Illustrator Carin Berger used ephemera to create the dioramas, shadow boxes and cut-paper collages that show the faux animals in their, er, habitat.

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