Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just booklove miscellany in general.
I believe this book has found me at the exact moment that I need to believe in magic, no matter if it is only a chortle, a chuckle, a snicker. I was wondering how I could possibly fit this into our current reading theme, as I did not really find any Asian characters in the narrative. However, it does fit our foodie theme quite nicely, I thought.
Felicity Pickle is a girl after my own heart. She is a word catcher and sees them sparkle around people’s intakes of breath, furrowed brows, lonely smiles. The invisible yet twinkling words betray each person’s every wish or dream. She even sees them perched on people’s shoulders:
Felicity is also a poem catcher. She captures the exact words needed by her younger sister Frannie Jo to put her to sleep or calm her fears.
This is a book that revels in words, at the same time that it invites the reader in on secrets, hushed storytelling about heartbreaks, scandals that have been kept under wraps and buried in myths. It is also a heartbreaking tale about wandering hearts:
The book is also a quiet prayer to take root, build connections, stay put, and find home – wherever that may be. This deliciously-written novel tackles big issues such as single parenting, homelessness, families ripped apart by a curse, stuttering, dealing with physical disability and parental separation because of war – and what it means to stand apart from others and be different. Weird. Odd. While packaged in something magical and otherworldly, there is a contemporary thread that allows the reader to put their hands inside the words of the book, wiggle it, and pick out something that would whisper secrets to their ears.
As Felicity conducts her painstaking research on the history of the Threadbare brothers to figure out why the magic has gone from the small town, she also yearns for her father whose absence is even more keenly felt by their not being allowed to discuss him as it brings a world of hurt in Mama’s eyes:
While there are quite a number of characters in this book and a lot of story threads that may be easily picked up yet again in another book, I found that I could follow it quite easily. Natalie Lloyd very clearly enjoyed the river of words streaming from her fingers, as one story leads to another and another, unraveling failed romances and allowing people to dance with their own shadows. I particularly enjoyed the character of the Beedle as he transcends his own physical constraints and heartbreak by being a man-boy for others through selfless acts that go beyond mere altruism but pure heart and service to the community.
Of course what makes this book perfect for our current Makan theme is seen in Dr. Zook’s Dreamery Creamery with 45 mysterious ice-cream flavors. There is also Ponder’s Pie Shop whose secret recipes make people fall in love or feel brave as magic is snugly tucked into the ingredients like fairy flavoring. In a city like Midnight Gulch, anything can happen. The ice cream Blackberry Sunrise also seems to be quite extra special. If you take a bite and it tastes sweet, it means that you are in for some sad or even bitter memories; but if it tastes sweet then good memories shall wash over you like the sunrise. Makes me wonder what I would remember if I take a bite.
At its very essence, this book is all about love – the kind that could not be contained:
After I’ve read the book, there were three lines that stood out for me in particular, as the story shows how words can be sent flying off into the skies, possibly changing the course of events forever.
It doesn’t matter if they actually get to their destination or not, or maybe if whoever receiving them even cares – because at the end of the day the love sustains itself. A book for lovers of words and wandering hearts, elvish magic in their veins and stars in their eyes.
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. Published by Scholastic Press, 2014. Borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me and edited using an iPhone app.