on February 25, 2014
Charming, delightful, and full of unpredictable magic, A Snicker of Magic is perfect for readers of all ages! At only twelve years old, Felicity Pickle’s life has already been full of surprises. Her mother, a spirited drifting soul, never allows her small family to remain in one place for too long. With each new travel destination, the family continues to make memories and tries to make the best of unpleasant situations. However, when Felicity’s mother decides to take the family back to her hometown of Midnight Gulch, little did they know each one would find their own special hint of magic.
Felicity deems herself a “word catcher and collector”. She loves all words, big ones, small ones, flashy ones, and ones that can even make you sad. Words are what keep her afloat when the world seems to spin out of control and she feels as though she will never fit in. Words also help soothe her younger sister when she’s feeling down and lift their spirits every time they started a new school. Upon their arrival to Midnight Gulch, Felicity is filled with wonder at the hope their family might actually find a place to stay permanently. And what better place to call home than a town full of magic?
Every page in A Snicker of Magic left me with so many feels. Natalie Lloyd’s writing was splendid. My eyes filled with tears, my heart ached and fluttered. The way Felicity used words and associated them with her feelings or what she thought others were feeling was genius. For a while I would often forget our main character was only twelve years old. Her approach on life was very insightful and often times made her seem twice her age. I loved everything about Felicity, even her shyness when meeting new people or trying to make friends. I also loved how she would see words shimmering or floating from people. Words too often people were afraid to say aloud. She is an outstanding heroine and I adored every minute of being inside her young mind.
The magical aspect of the story helped to intertwine Felicity’s word catching and her own fears about the world. In most cases, it was magic that helped everyone in the novel to come to terms with things from their past they often tried to forget. Overall, I LOVED A Snicker of Magic! It’s beautifully written and exceed my expectations by a thousand. I highly recommend it to anyone, young or old, looking for a feel good novel that will leave them full of hope and wanting to embark on their own magical adventure.
Originally Reviewed At: Mother/Gamer/Writer
Rating: 5 out of 5 Controllers
on March 22, 2014
Every so often a book comes along where you say to yourself, “I feel privileged to know that I live in a world where books like this exist.” They are books that are forever imprinted upon your heart.
What makes A SNICKER OF MAGIC so, well, magical is Natalie Lloyd’s pure, unadulterated love of words. She’s like the sommelier of words, making just the right pairings so that you want to swish them around and let them linger on your tongue for a while. The language is so decadent and literary, yet the story and characters are accessible and appealing to kids at the same time; it’s not above their heads as literary novels tend to be. When I came to the end of the story, I cried. Not because the ending was sad, but because I was sad that it ended. I just didn’t want to leave Midnight Gulch.
I'm really rooting for this one to win the 2015 Newbery award.
on March 11, 2014
This book is like a great big hug, the first day of sunshine after a long winter, and the chocolate bar you find in the cupboard when you thought you had none. It's delicious and unexpected, and I savored every second of it.
on April 29, 2014
First off, let me say that I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway, and was very pleased at the opportunity to read a book aimed at today's young people.
One thing for sure: this is a book I would have LOVED as a ten-year-old... you know, back in the Dark Ages. I was (and am) enamored with words, writing, and books, so a tale about the magic of words would have been right up my alley. Bottom line, if I were reviewing this from my ten-year-old self's perspective, I would probably give it six stars. (I frequently colored outside the box.)
But I tried, instead, to read this through the eyes of today's children... say, through the eyes of some of my grandchildren. And I'm sorry to say, I don't know if any of my grandchildren would stick with this book until the end. It has an slow, old-fashioned feel about it, like books from the fifties, and some of the old-fashioned language Felicity uses is "odd." I'm not talking about the delightful words she sees and captures from the air... they're delightful and imaginative. I'm talking about some of her expressions, like "what the hayseed," and other very out-dated expressions, which currently escape me... which no one uses anymore, let alone a little girl. And while smoking was considered an acceptable mainstream activity when I was a young girl, that isn't the case anymore. It's a little troubling to me that lighting up a cigarette is such a prevalent occurence in a children's book. It certainly isn't a necessary element to the story, so I question its inclusion.
Still and all, this book is magical in many ways. Its wholesomeness, its old-fashioned feeling, and the overall themes of hope, love, family, and home make it a very uplifting story. The characters are wonderful, and the imagination and vocabulary-stretching aspects are stellar attributes for any children's book to have. I'll have to start passing it around to some of my grandchildren, and see what they think. With a little magic, maybe there's more of me in them than I realize, and they'll all love it.
I'd give this book four and a half stars.
on April 14, 2014
I have not read an author who could write such a splendid, magical, and heartwarming book since Diana Wynne Jones.
"A Snicker of Magic" is truly that level of greatness.
I was constantly floored by the imagination that filled these pages. My heart soared and plummeted and danced through every chapter as I followed Felicity Pickle through discovering the magic that exists all around and especially inside.
I highlighted one sentence after another, one paragraph after another, telling myself that I needed to remember these words. These words were good advice, sweet things to hear, and truths to remember.
The characters were lovable and full of fun and mischief. Each and every person you met in Midnight Gulch had a story to tell. Thankfully Natalie Lloyd let each and every one of them have their spotlight. It's been a long time since I read a work that treated each of its characters as though they were the most important. In the end, everyone is part of the bigger and greater picture. Every person in a town makes it the place it is. Every somebody is worth something.
"A Snicker of Magic" was not all feel-good-lollipop-candy-coated-fun, however. Ms. Lloyd touched on some issues that many of us have faced - Being left, feeling trapped, feeling alone, feeling out of place, missing someone, and losing someone. She reminds us of our burdens and fears. Midnight Gulch is full of sad memories too, but the splendid thing that the reader learns is that those "Factocactus" memories... the hurtful ones, can be turned into Factofabulous ones. The ones that make us smile and feel warm and hopeful inside. We just have to choose.
I certainly believe that the author herself is a Felicity Pickle, an author with magic in her veins. Someone with a knack for finding just the right word to get the reader's heart to pounding: Yes! Yes! Yes Yes Yes!
Spindiddly job, Ms. Lloyd.
on March 1, 2014
I put this book aside a couple of times, but am so glad that I kept picking it back up.
Disclaimer before I critique: At any given time, I am in the middle of reading two different books and listening to another during my commute. While I enjoyed the characters and their back-stories, I often found myself flipping back (when they reappeared) to see "who was who" and "what was what". They were intriguing (this author could spend the next dozen years writing spin-off stories about the characters in this book), but caused a bit of confusion for me.
I hated that one of the characters was constantly lighting up a cigarette. I loved all the words that Felicity "saw", but some of her spoken words were a bit overused (though, that's exactly what kids do). Also, references to her mother's wandering spirit and the dread she felt at the thought of leaving, were a bit repetitive.
Enough complaining, I really did love this book. Knowing that I would be writing a review, I started keeping track of quotes to use. There were just TOO many. Lyrical language and heart-felt lessons abound. Toward the end of the book, I could not stop reading. There is a happy ending for ALL, though they may not have gotten everything they (thought they) wanted.
I will definitely be recommending this; I can see why so many adults LOVE it. This book will appeal mostly to 10+ girls who love language and writing. Most kids, these days, enjoy faster plots and action, action, action, so I will probably read this to my class to start "a buzz" before adding it to our summer reading list.
I look forward to reading more from this author.
on March 15, 2014
A really fun book for junior high aged readers. It is the story of a town called Midnight Gulch, Tennessee which once had magic but lost it because of a duel between a pair of brothers that lived there. The overriding plot involves bringing magic back to the town. The main character is a girl named Felicity who collects words that she sees around people's heads that she interacts with. It seems that a lot of characters in the town have unique abilities. The subplot is that "Flea's" mother constantly moves from town to town and Flea is conspiring for them to settle down in Midnight Gulch. Very imaginative and well written by a wonderful first time author.
Felicity Pickle travels the country with her mother and little sister, never staying in one place for long. Her mother is cursed with a wandering heart, but the girls are used to it. Felicity is always on the watch for signs that her mother's read to head somewhere new and her sister carries a suitcase filled with her most precious possessions everywhere she goes. As the Pickle women roll into Midnight Gulch, the town where Felicity's mama grew up, Felicity considers the stories she's heard about the small town... stories that tell of Midnight Gulch as a town once filled with happy families gifted with magical abilities, now cursed. Her mother tells her that Midnight Gulch has lost it's magic, but Felicity isn't so sure.
Felicity is a "word collector." She sees words sparkling and curling and darting through the air and hovering over family, friends, and strangers. She's collected most words you can imagine - and even some you can't - in her special notebook, but, in Midnight Gulch, Felicity is seeing words she's never seen before, like "home" and "friend." And, for maybe the first time, Felicity comes to dread the signs that her mother's wandering heart is yearning for adventure.
With the help of Jonah, a new friend that has a few magical secrets of his own, Felicity begins to unravel the curse of the mysterious Brothers Threadbare, the curse that drained Midnight Gulch of its magic.
A SNICKER OF MAGIC is an exuberant story populated with magical deeds, memorable characters, and inspiring lessons of friendship, family, and hope.
There are so many things to love about A SNICKER OF MAGIC.
First, the wonderful, magical ability of Felicity Pickle to see words. Natalie Lloyd describes the words that Felicity collects as they appear in the world around her, giving them a life of their own. I spent much of the book looking forward to which words Felicity would see next... and what they'd be doing as she collected them with dedication and care.
Second, the curious town of Midnight Gulch, with it's gifted - both magically and otherwise - inhabitants. Even cursed, the people of Midnight Gulch sparkle with life and love. Though it's hard to choose a favorite from the cast of characters, I do have a soft spot for Felicity's friend Jonah. This boy always of others; he is always giving to others and finding ways to spread happiness. Jonah is an inspiration for many reasons, one of which readers might often forget: Jonah is wheelchair-bound. But perhaps "bound" is the wrong word, because Jonah never seems held back in anyway. Though Jonah has wheels instead of legs, Lloyd doesn't linger on this detail, and readers will never see him as less than a wonderful, inspiring boy from Midnight Gulch.
And last, but not least, the intensely quotable nature of this novel. I could barely read a handful of pages without jotting down and bookmarking a line or passage that I loved. Natalie Lloyd, much like Felicity, has a gift driven by the magic of words and her writing shines!
“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 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.” -- from A Snicker of Magic
on March 27, 2014
This book gives me all kinds of feels. Seriously. I read it while I was in the midst of a terrible shingles episode, and this book made me feel like hope existed in my life, that at the end of everything life would be okay.
That is powerful people. Power. Ful. And magical. If you’ve ever had shingles, you know why.
Midnight Gulch is a magical place full of hope—and this seems to be something Felicity has always needed in her life. And her mother’s. After all, she is a girl on the move.
She has a mother who is always on the move; she cannot stand to stay in the same place long. Is this a symptom of the ever-vanishing magic in Midnight Gulch?
It doesn’t matter because they are back. And Felicity wants to stay. This word collector feels the magic in the air, and she feels that this is the place that is meant to be her home. Her mom just can’t take that away from her. She just can’t.
But the question is this: can Felicity help restore the magic that has been lost? And if so, how will this restoration affect her life (and her mom’s)?
What I enjoyed most about this book is Felicity. Felicity’s character is nicely developed, she is the novel’s star and she remains so throughout. There isn’t a single secondary character that steals her thunder; but those secondary characters serve to support her. Each has a specific role in Felicity’s life, and each brings out the best in her.
A note about adults in children’s books: usually I find that adults in a child’s tale are tricky. A lot of the time I find the adult gets in the way of the storytelling, but that is not the case in this tale. They are there as guidance, which is what all children need in their life. While the novel is on the fantastical side, the role of Felicity’s mom and grandma add a realistic feel to the story, and at times I found myself lost deeper in the text because of it, believing that Midnight Gulch is real—and that I too want to live there. To experience the magic.
Or at the very least, eat a bit of ice cream.
The plot of this book is nicely paced, especially for younger readers. It is engaging from the first page, and it holds readers attentions until the conclusion.
Do I recommend this book?
Absolutely. I recommend this to readers of all ages—and of all genres. This novel doesn’t just speak to a certain type of reader. It is for all readers.
Readers will connect with Felicity the word girl; they will be intrigued by Midnight Gulch; they will find themselves lost in the words, much like Felicity is when she is collecting them.
on April 20, 2014
I read books to recommend to teachers and I have put this one at the top of the list. The author has put words and magic together to create a new world filled with people you love, circumstances you can't control, happy moments in unhappy lives--and unhappy moments in happy lives. The main character has that wonderful child's intuition that creates words in full dimensions and describes people more than the words they say aloud. I did not speed through this book; I took my very sweet time because I did not want it to end. This book will expand vocabulary, cause discussions, help teach readers that there are always different perspectives, and take most of us on a journey of sweet surprises and terrible sadness.