A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

Oh My, Oh My, Oh My. Natalie Lloyd has written a spindiddly first book! 

Our heroine is Felicity Juniper Pickle. Her power is seeing and collecting words from places and people, words that blink, words that hum, words that burst into colours and shapes, words with legs and wings, words she writes down in her blue notebook or on her shoes and arms. There are never-before words like ardwolf, "a hyena that stays up all night and eats termites," and spindiddly "amazing."   
When Felicity is with friends and loved ones, she can turn these words into poems and stories. Unfortunately, if she is around more than one person at a time, words "melt on her tongue like snowflakes... and disappear right off the edge of (her) lips." Her throat freezes up, and her words come out all jumbled when she tries to talk in front of strangers. 

Because her mother is a wanderer who travels from place to place painting, Felicity claims to be "from here and there and all across the world.Felicity has lived in six different states. It isn't easy starting school in a new place and making new friends. Words like: 
engulf her when she starts 6th grade at Stoneberry school in Midnight Gulch, her mother's home town. 

Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, "used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers." Now it has barely a snicker left. The town and inhabitants have been cursed, a curse that chased the magic away and won't let Mama find peace wherever she goes. 

In Midnight Gulch, Felicity makes her first best friend, Jonah Pickett, (The Beedle) a young boy whose goal is to make everyone happier. As the story unfolds, Felicity and Jonah search for a way to lift the curse so that Felicity can remain in Midnight Gulch to grow up and stay as long as she wants. 

There is so much to love about this book:

I loved the made up words:
"A factalactus is a truth that hurts a little bit, that prickles and stings, like you tried to shake hands with a cactus flower. But just because it hurts doesn't make it less true. 

And factobaulous "a truth that feels so good, it's like you hugged the summer sunshine."

I loved the writing. There are 
simple lines like:

"part of me wanted to crawl off like a spider word and under the chairs" 
And whole paragraphs of pleasure:
“The way he said her name made my heart cramp. In all my years of word collecting, I've learned this to be a tried and true fact: I can very often tell how much a person loves another person by the way they say their name. I think that's one of the best feelings in the world, when you know your name is safe in another person's mouth. When you know they'll never shout it out like a cuss word, but say it or whisper it like a once-upon-a-time.”

I loved the motley collection of characters:

Jonah Pickett, whose goal in life is to secretly make people happy, just happens to use a wheelchair

Florentine, the poet, 
Star root 
mentors Felicity so she is prepared for 'the duel.'

Cleo, the feisty aunt, who quilts who takes them in is surrounded by: 
"Patch it 
Mend it 
Stitch it back together" 

MIdnight Gulch itself: 
" a poem tangled up inside a rush of the midnight song the crickets were whistling.
At Last,
Forever, and now,
Here you are."

Here is some wisdom I'll take with me from this book:
"Your words matter more than you know


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