Book Review: A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

If your child is a reader, a believer, a magic-wish-maker, then they need to read Natalie Lloyd’s A Snicker of Magic.  I was first hooked by the word “snicker” – a suggestive hint of a mischievous world, where words shape reality.  That snicker flits throughout the book like the green fairy, just out of sight but always full of tantalizing hope.

To be honest, after the first few chapters I was angry.  I feel the same way when I read James Thurber (The Wonderful O) or Peter Beagle (The Last Unicorn).  I am furious that I will never be able to write anything as beautiful and captivating and simple.  I could slave for a year to create one perfectly polished sentence – and Lloyd created an entire book of such gems.

By the last few chapters, I was crying, not just because of the story, but because I would soon finish the book, and never be able to read it for the first time again.  But hey, love makes you crazy, and that’s how much I fell in love with this book.  It’s the sort of book that can slide into your soul and change you for years after you’ve forgotten it.

It’s a story of magic, lost and found.  Felicity’s magic is collecting words.  She sees them dancing and wiggling around her.  But her mother sees only the distant horizon, another highway to follow.  Felicity and her sister and her mother are always together, but always lost and lonely.  Then they move secluded Midnight Gulch, her mother’s hometown.  The town used to have magic, but only shattered remnants remain in the dreamers and lost souls left behind.

The people are quirky and charming and achingly sad.  Felicity is the soul of the story, but The Beedle is its heart.  She joins forces with this mysterious do-gooder.  Together they help people recover the memories of their magic with the careful application of a few pints of Blackberry Sunrise ice cream.

Since the protagonist is a twelve-year-old girl, the story will probably appeal most to girls age 10 and up.  But another major character is a boy, so it could appeal to thoughtful boys as well.  It may also appeal to children who have divorced or missing parents, children with physical disabilities, children with precarious living situations (ie, homeless, semi-homeless, or nomadic).  Of course, it will appeal most of all to students who love words and books.

Some parents like to read a book before their child in case there is any questionable content.  I don’t think that is necessary here.  There is no violent or sexual content, and no death.  But I highly recommend that you read it anyway.  One, it’s completely worthwhile.  Two, it is the sort of book that will make your child think, and you should be prepared to help your child process thoughts they may never have considered before:  Other people live differently than we do – what is “normal”?  How do I push myself to be braver and better?  How can I help others in little ways?  How do I figure out what is helpful for others?  What is it that people really need to be happy, and what makes me truly happy?

I would compare this book to A Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson and Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.  Serious, even sad, yet uplifting and magical.

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