I’m always on the lookout for a good new middle grade – probably not for the reason you might think. I’m honestly not as good at middle grade discovery as I am at young adult. Partially, it’s a personal preference. I also follow more YA authors on Twitter, so that avenue of discovery is easier. And, to be completely honest, middle grade titles are much more likely to leave me a sobbing, emotional wreck than YA titles. Right now, that’s not what I’m looking for in a good read.
So, cue my excitement when Karen’s tween announced that Natalie Lloyd’s A Snicker of Magic is her new favorite book. After checking to make sure it wouldn’t leave me an emotional wreck, I downloaded the audio version from my public library to listen to on my way back from Easter weekend. I have to admit I was initially put off by the accent the narrator uses for the main character (Felicity Pickle, age 12) – although it certainly matches the southern vernacular used in the book. Gradually, though, as I was drawn deeper into the story of Felicity and her family, I found myself agreeing with the narrators choice of accent and unable to imagine it being read in another voice.
Felicity and her younger sister, Frannie Jo, have been residents of many places, only staying just so long before their Mama’s wandering heart takes off and they become transplants yet again. This time, Mama has brought them to stay with their Aunt Cleo in Midnight Gulch, which just happens to be where Mama grew up. Midnight Gulch used to be a place where magic was as common as the leaves on the trees, until an unfortunate conflict between two brothers caused the town to lose its magic. Now all that’s left is a ‘snicker of magic.’ Some of that magic, however, lives on in Felicity, who sees words floating in the air and her sister Frannie Jo, who hears music no one else can hear.
Natalie Lloyd has created a richly detailed back story for this town and its inhabitants, weaving magic throughout. I would highly recommend listening to the audio version of this book, because the word choice used in description leaves a distinct visual impact. Every time I think about the book, I see colors everywhere! Whoever chose the cover illustration did a marvelous job of conveying that essential part of the story.
This book has been getting a lot of buzz on Twitter the last few days, especially on the #titletalk discussion. I’m excited to hear what the tween has to say about it. Maybe we can get her to do a book review?