"A Snicker of Magic" Enchants, Enthralls

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If Harper Lee had set out to write the Great American Fairy Tale, we might have gotten A SNICKER OF MAGIC a half century earlier. But she didn't, so the world had to wait for Natalie Lloyd to be come along, to grow, to collect the words and string them together, so that the story could be born just the way it was meant to be. As Florentine would say, "Some books are magic that way."

Immediately, the reader is brought into a world that is cozy, comfortable, familiar, and altogether strange and wonderful, as we are introduced to Felicity Juniper Pickle, as well as her family -- mother Holly and little sister Frannie Jo, and their dog Biscuit -- as they wander the country in the Pickled Jalapeno. They never stay any place for long, but the family's new destination is unlike any place Felicity has ever visited before. It's the place her mother came from. And there's something very special about it.

     "Midnight Gulch used to be a secret place," Mama said. "The mountain hid the town high-up-away from the rest of the world. And the river surrounded the mountain and kept it safe. And the forest stood up tall around the river and caught all of the town's secrets and songs in its branches." I relaxed into the sound of her voice. Her speaking voice is wonderful, but my mama's story voice is like nothing I've ever heard, like something between a summer breeze and a lullaby. "The town had to stay secret, you see, because the people who lived there had magic in their veins."

     "Real magic?" I could barely even whisper the word. Just the thought of real magic sent shivers from my nose to my toes. This time it was my heart that answered, a steady drumbeat yes inside my chest.

     Yes,

          Yes,

               Yes!

Midnight Gulch is, indeed, a magical place. And while magic used to be strong there, there are several people and places where there is still a snicker of magic to be found. Even Felicity carries a snicker of magic with her: she's a word collector. She sees them floating above people, crawling up their arms, swirling in mist or sparkling in fireworks or popping like soap bubbles. She collects them in her blue book, and captures poems for her sister. But when it comes to speaking to others, her words cling to her tongue, wrap around each other and come out all wrong.

Fortunately for Felicity, there's the Beedle. Nobody knows who the Beedle is, but he's been watching over Midnight Gulch for over fifty years, helping people anonymously by giving them just what they need.  In this case, what Felicity finds she needs most is a friend, and she gets that in the form of Jonah Pickett, her classmate with a secret he's been keeping from the town. He has a know-how over Felicity that he knows will not only help her, but break the curse put on the town almost a hundred years ago when the Brothers Threadbare dueled on the hillside and took the magic away: Felicity will compete in the new duel -- a talent show put on by the students. And Felicity's talent will be writing a new poem to read in front of the whole town!

As Felicity grows closer to her spindiddly new friend, Jonah takes her around the town to introduce her to special people. Like Oliver Weatherly, the owner of Dr. Zook's Ice Cream factory, where every flavor was unique, and the Raspberry Sunrise gave you memories. Like Florentine, the poet, who was protected from harm as long as she carried her burdens in her backpack. And like her aunt Cleo, who knows more about the Threadbare curse than she's lets on, and what it has to do with their family and why Felicity has never been able to collect the one word she wants to see most in her life: Home.

A SNICKER OF MAGIC is a book full of memories you wish were yours. They ain't yours, but they're real enough. Real enough to make you smile, real enough they may as well be yours. Real enough to hurt at times, and real enough to make you cry. Real enough that with the turn of every page, you can feel your heart sing along:

     Yes,

          Yes,

               Yes!

Some books are magic that way.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0