Published by Scholastic Press on February 24, 2014
Genres: Magical Realism, MG Books
Source: the publisher
Introducing an extraordinary new voice -- a magical debut that will make your skin tingle, your eyes glisten . . .and your heart sing.
Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.
But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck's about to change. A "word collector," Felicity sees words everywhere---shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog's floppy ears---but Midnight Gulch is the first place she's ever seen the word "home." And then there's Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity's never seen before, words that make Felicity's heart beat a little faster.
Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she'll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that's been cast over the town . . . and her mother's broken heart.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
I always take the praise in a book’s blurb or back cover with a grain of salt. But in this case, “a magical debut” and “an extraordinary new voice” are decidedly not hyperbole. A Snicker of Magic is quirky and heartwarming and wonderful, especially if you’re in love with words.
Felicity Pickle is. She sees words wherever she looks, and collects them too, writing them down in her journal, on her sneakers, or even on her arm.
Jonah believes Felicity is a poet. He thinks, too, that Felicity should enter the Talent Show. And he’s going to help her win. Jonah is the Beedle – the town’s secret “angel”. He has a sixth sense about how to help people, and he is Felicity’s first friend in a long, long time of wandering.
What Felicity wants most is to stop wandering: for her and Mama and her little sister to make Midnight Gulch their home. It’s where Mama came from, after all. But the town’s magic has been all but gone since the Brothers Threadbare quarrelled and left town. For Felicity’s family to stay will require breaking the brothers’ curse — and maybe competing in the dreaded Talent Show as well.
I can’t begin to tell you all the ways this spindiddly book won my heart. From the words Felicity sees — some real, some delightfully made-up — to its unerring blend of small Appalachian town and magical realism, from its whimsically eccentric characters to the perfection with which it captures and expresses longing and love, hope and despair and determination, A Snicker of Magic is sheer enchantment.
As the narrator, Felicity’s voice is rings true: utterly believable and wholly her own. I loved her instantly, from her protectiveness toward her little sister, Frannie Jo, and her fierce longing for her absent father, to her tongue-tying terror of speaking in public. For all the challenges in her life, Felicity has spunk, compassion, and a magic all her own.
Jonah is also a joy, a strong and happy boy who just happens to be in a wheelchair. He is mischievous and spirited, and his good heart shines in everything he does and says. He takes great delight in being the Beedle, in secretly bringing joy into other people’s lives. It’s worth noting that Lloyd neither dwells on Jonah’s disability nor ignores it; it’s simply part of who he is, and not a soul appears to think twice about it.
The magic in A Snicker of Magic is original and beautifully blended with the real world, more magical realism than true fantasy. Midnight Gulch has one foot and half of another firmly planted in our world, even as the local ice cream magically brings back strong memories and Felicity’s words shimmer like melted sunshine and puff like exhaust smoke from the back of a car.
Natalie Lloyd takes as much delight in words as Felicity does; she writes with joy and poetic exuberance, crafting phrases and words that feel natural and unstudied but which fizz and sparkle and linger in the mind for weeks. Magical and unforgettable, A Snicker of Magic is destined to be one of those children’s books that transcend the genre and become beloved classics.