Title: A Snicker of Magic
Author: Natalie Lloyd
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Genre/Format: Mild Fantasy/Middle Grade Novel
GoodReads Summary: Introducing an extraordinary new voice---a magical debut that will make your skin tingle, your eyes glisten . . .and your heart sing.
Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.
But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck's about to change. A "word collector," Felicity sees words everywhere---shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog's floppy ears---but Midnight Gulch is the first place she's ever seen the word "home." And then there's Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity's never seen before, words that make Felicity's heart beat a little faster.
Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she'll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that's been cast over the town . . . and her mother's broken heart.
What I Think: This book is full of such lovely words. It's not surprise the the main character, Felicity is a word collector because I'm sure the author, Natalie Lloyd is a word collector herself. And if she isn't a word collector, she sure is a word weaver. She knows how to wind words together to make them read like ribbons of caramel in a scoop of ice cream, sweet and smooth. The writing in this book is the kind you want to wrap around you like a blanket.
As a mentor text, this book would be an amazing example of descriptive writing. I'm sure you can find every kind of literary element here and great examples of imagery. In the examples that I pulled out, you'll notice a lot of alliteration and simile. Most of all Natalie's writing is a great mentor text for show, don't tell and word choice. I love talking to kids about $100 words and you can see how tight her writing is because she chooses the best words for what she wants to say. It isn't easy to make every word count but she definitely knows how to do this!
Read Together: Grades 4 - 5
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 8 (I think I would use examples of her descriptive writing all the way through high school, although I would probably not read the whole book in upper grades)
Read With: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Bigger Than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder, The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. by Kate Messner, Savvy by Ingrid Law, A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass, A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
Snatch of Text:
"Her eyes used to be as bright blue as a summer sky, but now they looked like jeans faded from too many tumbles through a washing machine." (p. 7)
"'Everybody has a talent." Jonah gave me a searching look.
I shook my head. 'There's not much I'm talented at. Except climbing trees. And I can drink a milk shake real fast and not get brain freeze.'' (p. 37)
"I thought of standing on stage with shaky hands and tingling ears and sweaty lips. I thought of how my words came out twisted when I tried to say them in front of all those people. My words were a mess to everybody but my family." (p. 71)
"That night I propped me elbows on the windowsill and stared up at the star-patched sky. If I looked down, I could see the rusty roof of the Pickled Jalapeno parked crooked in the lot. If I looked straight ahead, I could see lights scattered through the dark mountains. They were porch lights, probably. But I imagined they were sleeping stars. I made a wish on every single one of them. Jonah'd be thrilled about me dueling. But I couldn't summon up even a teaspoonful of happiness. In fact, I had a strange, sinking feeling that I'd just made everything worse." (p. 100)
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you were nervous or terrified to do something. Did you do it? How did you get over your fear and get the courage to do it?
Topics Covered: Family, Love, Hope, Determination, Courage, Adversity, Friendship