Retro Review: Do It Yourself Magic

There’s a book on my special cherished bookcase of favorites that sticks out like a sore thumb among the newer Young Adult novels with beautiful, flashy covers.


It’s a tattered paperback, the front cover lost during one of its numerous reading, the spine worn so much the bottom half has fallen off, the pages torn and crumpled.

But this book means more to me than any of those novels with their flashy covers, it was passed down by my mom, and I promptly devoured it and loved it.


This book is called ‘Do-It-Yourself-Magic’ by Ruth Chew.



It’s about a boy and his sister who find a Build-Anything kit marked down at the discount store because it got dented from too many people shaking It, and was too expensive for anyone to buy, and they buy it and when they take it home they discover it contains… well, magic.

But not the Harry Potter-rather-unbelievable sort, it’s very subtle and believable magic.


I like this book partly because the middle ages, kings and castles, queens and courtyards, have always interested me, but also because of what I mentioned before, because it isn’t just another witch and wizard one, in fact, none of the characters possess/develop magical abilities throughout the entire book.


It’s just one of those books that lets you look past the times when it isn’t the best written book, the times when the characters are almost stereotype children, asking too many questions, it’s almost insulting to children, past the fact that the main characters met their now-friend when he was stealing their television, and now he’s their friend, and just see the great plot, the beautifully developed story.


When I was a child, and even now, I always thirsted for the books my parents had forbidden, nothing tells an avid reader(or maybe just me)to sneak this book under your covers with a flashlight more than to put the books on a top shelf and tell me not to touch them till I’m older.


When I was younger it was the Baby Sitters Club, which spent years forbidden, then Christopher Pike, then pretty much most of the young adult genre I read, so it’s very rare when I came across a middle grade like this, written for young readers, that I actually like, since most middle grade I will roll my eyes at the way they’re written- it’s definitely one of the only middle grade on my five bookcases of young adult, I can tell you honestly.


I adored this book, and I’m sure any lover of books and surely any lover of middle grade will also, I recommend getting a copy for yourself, since no collection of middle grade is complete without one.


So, I thank you for reading my incessant rambling, have a great day!


Emily is a homeschooled student, whom you can find on the web at her Young Adult book review site at, which has been neglected in recent days because of the time she’s spent in Microsoft Word, biting her fingernails and editing this review. She wants to be either an author or a teacher, the latter inspired by her favorite teacher who read to the class for forty-five minutes at the end of the day.