A Snicker of Magic

 
Kids try to find town's lost magic in beguiling tale.
ALA Best and Notable Books

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers get a glimpse of what life is like for a kid who's always changing schools.  

Positive messages

Magic is helpful, but self-belief is what leads to winning. The love of family can support and strengthen you. "Love makes up for a lifetime of mistakes." "If you're brave enough to love and forgive...there's no curse in the world that has any power over you." "Home isn't just a house or a city or a place; home is what happens when you're brave enough to love people." A loving family can be all the "home" you need.​ Keep hope alive, even when you're struggling with what seem to be insurmountable difficulties, fears, and sorrows. A physically handicapped person in a wheelchair can be a valiant hero.

Positive role models

Jonah is a secret do-gooder and constantly finds ways to help others. Felicity is delightfully real and ultimately confronts her terror of speaking. In addition, she's determined to find a solution to the long-ago curse, framed as a rhyming riddle, that affects her family. 

Violence & scariness

The violence is from nature: crashing thunderstorms (possibly called up by magic). Also, some of Felicity's classmates laugh at her first fumbling attempt to introduce herself to her new class. And there's a historic feud between two brothers. What began in anger ended in separation and lasting remorse.

Language
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that A Snicker of Magic is the story of 12-year-old Felicity Pickle, who arrives with her mama, little sister, and dog in Midnight Gulch, Tenn., Mama's hometown. It has a cast of eccentric, lovable characters and an intriguing plot as Felicity and her new friend Jonah, who happens to be in a wheelchair, try to break a curse and bring magic back to Midnight Gulch. Mama has a "rambling heart" and is unable to settle anywhere, and Felicity's father has disappeared. Her Aunt Cleo is rarely without a cigarette. Felicity sees words sprouting from people and objects -- including those that reflect people's hidden thoughts and desires -- but is terrified of speaking in public. She mixes up her words and her new classmates laugh at her.

Parents say

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What's the story?

Felicity is sick of always beginning a new school as her mother wanders from place to place. Although she sees words blooming everywhere from objects and people, she is terrified of speaking in public and thinks, "Making new friends can be harder than fractions." But then their van lands in Midnight Gulch, where once there was magic. Felicity believes it's still there, hiding. With her new best friend, Jonah, who secretly helps anyone in need, they try to find a way to break the curse and let the magic return.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

A SNICKER OF MAGIC is an imaginative and beguiling book with a very original premise. The girl who sees words sprouting everywhere but is tongue-tied finds her voice while finding the solution to the town's curse. The author Natalie Lloyd sweeps you into Midnight Gulch, where Blackberry Sunrise ice cream evokes memories and people try to help one another. There's a sweetness, without sentimentality, to the assorted eccentric characters, and a hopeful conclusion to the well-woven story. The novel makes you wish that the Tennessee town really existed. But perhaps you only have to look in the right places to find magic elsewhere. The writing is "splendiferous," to quote a favorite word of the two lead characters, as evidenced in this passage: "Someday, when I got brave enough to taste Blackberry Sunrise I hoped that exact memory is the first one I'd think of: The sunset colors stretched across the sky. Tiny red leaves twirled down around us along the wooded path. I wanted to remember Boone's lonesome whistle and the way Cleo's cigarette smoke curled so elegantly, so gracefully up toward the sky. I wanted to remember the way Mama kept looking up toward the clouds, smiling at the birds swooping through the treetops. I never wanted to forget all the ways we were connected that day: by our shadows and sunlight. By pounding hearts and a starry maybe.

"By the nearly silent flutter of our broken wings."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how A Snicker of Magic compares with other books in which magic plays a key role. What others have you read? 

  • Can you think of someone who would benefit from your help? Who? How? Would you do it secretly?

  • Make your own list of words for something you care about or a place you visit, and try to shape these words into a poem.

Book details

Author:Natalie Lloyd
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Press
Publication date:February 25, 2014
Number of pages:307
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:7 - 8
Read alone:8 - 12
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Award:ALA Best and Notable Books

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bygilgamesh June 2, 2015
age 8+
 

boring

not cool at all it had a boring plot and i called quiteers

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