I remember a book from my youth (1979) in my elementary school library, about a kid with a 'cool' uncle that had an elixir. When the boy applied this elixir to his back he grew wings for the night. But when he was seen by someone, the elixir would never work for him again. I remember it being hardback (but that could be wrong) with no picture on the cover.

Does anyone know what book this is?

  • How long ago/when was your youth? Did this seem to be a book targeted at any one age range? Any recollection of the book cover?
    – phantom42
    Jun 11, 2013 at 15:21
  • 1
    That sounds a bit like Black and Blue Magic by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. No uncle in that one, though.
    – Frock
    Jun 11, 2013 at 19:02
  • It was in my elementary school library too, in 1976. I'm certain that @Frock is correct. See the answer below, and a further comment I left, that ties in the uncle. Great question! Jun 12, 2013 at 20:37

1 Answer 1


I believe you are seeking the book "Black and Blue Magic". In the book, it is not his uncle that gives him the bottle with the magic ointment that grows wings, but a guardian angel seeking to reach his own goal in helping his charge.

Though you indicated it had no picture, the cover is listed below along with a brief description.

Black and Blue Magic on Amazon

Black and Blue Magic

You'd think that someone with a name like Harry Houdini Marco would be deft and skillful, but Harry could only occasionally catch even an easy fly ball without making some dumb error. On top of that, most of his friends' families were moving to the suburbs. It would have been a long, dreary summer, but then a Mr. Mazeeck showed up and turned out to be more than he seemed. After helping the elderly gentleman, he receives a mysterious bottle with something very special inside as a reward and with careful instructions as to how to use it. The gift of flight.

  • 1
    You're probably correct. I loved that book, and others, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Harry's uncle was key to the novel, because he was a magician. His uncle died, but was owed a gift (boon?). The obligation was fulfilled via Harry, as he was the closest male relative. Harry was given his pick of mysterious (and magical) items. He chose the salve that gave him wings, real ones, for 12 hours, or maybe between dusk and dawn. By the end of the summer, his shoulder muscles had developed, better than by lifting weights. That was at the end of the book. I wish there had been a sequel... Jun 12, 2013 at 20:34
  • Thank you. Now I know what to go looking for... much obliged! Jun 13, 2013 at 20:21

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