by Natalie Lloyd
So I ended up adding this book to the TBR because I just kept reading reviews about it, and even though I was reading reviews from people who usually don’t like the same books, everyone seemed to agree that this book was fantastic. While A Snicker of Magic wasn’t a book that I necessarily had to add to my shelf immediately (like my recent experience with The View from Saturday), it still had a strong dose of that indescribable something that makes a book magic – something that goes beyond the objective facts of whether a book flows well or is grammatically correct or well-organized or has strong character development – you can read a book that has all those things and is still as dull as a brick. But every once in a while you’ll find those books that are magic, and I think that A Snicker of Magic falls into at least the edge of that category.
Felicity Pickle has spent most of her young life traveling. Her mother is a wanderer at heart, and can’t seem to settle down. Along with her little sister, Frannie, and their dog, Biscuit, Felicity and her mom have lived a variety of places around the country. But Felicity doesn’t love the wandering like her mother does, and yearns for a place to settle down and call home. She thinks that she may have found that place in Midnight Gulch, a town that used to be magical.
This is a book about words, and, appropriately, the writing is beautiful. Felicity’s quest for home and family isn’t really anything particularly new, but it’s told in a way that is endearing and lovely. I love the way that everyone in this book is fiercely loyal to those they love.
I made a big show of catching invisible words in my hands and putting them in my mouth and chewing on them. I knew my word-catching charade wasn’t the best way to make a fast friend at Stoneberry Elementary School. But it was the only way I could think of to make my little sister feel better. And I think if you’re lucky, a sister is the same as a friend, but better. A sister is like a super-forever-infinity friend.
Felicity isn’t ashamed that her best friend is her little sister, and she doesn’t mind hanging out with her crazy aunt, a boy in a wheelchair, or her has-been uncle. This book isn’t really about learning how to not-judge people – it’s just about people who aren’t judging, and it’s refreshing. There aren’t any villains or bad guys in this book, and that’s nice, too. I love the way that Felicity and her friend, Jonah, do their best to help everyone around them. The fact that Jonah is in a wheelchair is never a big deal as part of this story, and the very fact that Jonah’s big purpose in life is to find ways to help others is just fantastic to me. The way that Felicity learns to use her word-capturing power to encourage people is great, too – this entire book is, in many ways, about the power of words.
Boone smiled. “Do you see any words hovering around me right now?”
I nodded. I definitely saw some words:
“Well?” Boone blinked at me. “What words do you see? Can I use them in a new song?” ….
“New beginning,” my voice crackled. “Those are your words: new beginning.” I didn’t make eye contact with Mama. She’d know it was a fib. And anyhow, I wasn’t lying, not exactly. I might not have seen those exact words sitting on my uncle’s shoulders, but they were still true words. They could be at least.
“Yeah?” Boone’s cheek dimpled like he was about to smile at me. “New beginning?” ….
A smile stretched full and easy across Boone’s face. He sat up taller in his seat and nodded, just once. Affirmative. He believed me.
Craziest thing happened then:
Regret, Has-Been, Idiot, Deadbeat…
I watched every last one of those words pop like bath bubbles and disappear.
I really, really enjoyed this book, and definitely recommend it. It’s a middle-school-aged book, and I think that it is an excellent story to get into their hands – a story about the power of words, the importance of family and love, and the beauty of forgiveness and new beginnings.