Good Friday, Flames.
Let’s talk about books. Today I listened to the last of A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. It is a spindiddly children’s book that left me feeling happy and enchanted. Even at my advanced middle age I still love kid’s books. It’s the magic they offer and I don’t just mean hocus pocus or wingardium leviosa.
Favorite poet of the Flame, Robert Okaji, told us in his interview that it is a poet’s job to craft ‘charged’ language to present a point. I believe it is up to the authors of children’s books to craft ‘charmed’ language to enrobe the message or moral in hope and wonder. If you can pull it off, that’s more than just a snicker.
A Snicker of Magic is not just a collection of cliches and adages, it’s a tasty lozenge of optimism. It also kinda feels like a folktale written to imaginatively address synesthesia and related perceptions.
Felicity Juniper Pickle has lived just about everywhere in her short life – her momma has a wanderer’s soul – but in Midnight Gulch, Tennessee she’s finally found a place where her heart beats “Stay!” so eagerly it bruises her ribs. Midnight Gulch is the town where her momma was born and raised; a town that used to be full of magic. By the tingling of her freckles, Felicity can tell the magic hasn’t left at all — it’s just been waiting.
Felicity is a word collector. Throughout the course of her day, she sees words rising off people, buildings, and objects like steam. Sometimes she writes down the best words in her Blue Book or on her shoe -to preserve them from being forgotten – sometimes she plucks them out of the air to make poems for her little sister Frannie Jo. This is a gift she is born with and has been her constant between all of the new towns and first day’s of school. As she gets to know Midnight Gulch and its eccentric townsfolk, Felicity learns where her word magic came from and of the curse that has haunted her family for generations. The curse that keeps her aunt from accepting love, her uncle feeling like a failure, and her mother from staying put. Maybe Felicity Juniper Pickle will unravel the riddle and break that curse so she never has to leave Midnight Gulch and the warm community it offers.
I have enjoyed this book thoroughly for its voice, for its shine, and for its heart. Midnight Gulch doesn’t have the kind of magic that precludes a normal childhood or whisks kids away from their families. Natalie Lloyd has written about good people being good and passing on those values to their children. The magic in town is more like 45 flavors of ice cream to choose from at the end of a well-lived day.
The story is sentimental at times, and the prose can be quite lyrical, but that shouldn’t stop you. A Snicker of Magic is most certainly a book crafted to stimulate the imagination and virtues of children. Give yourself a break from all that adulting and read A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. It’s splendiferous.
Be sure to check out our first writing topic for December. It’s a week-long stand alone contest for the topic “Move Heaven and Earth“. A bit of trivia…I was inspired to share this prompt based on a crazy dream I had about the Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott. Pencils down is Sunday before midnight so make some time to write today.