by Natalie Lloyd
First sentence: “‘They say all the magic is gone up out of this place,’ said Mama.”
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Content: Because the main character collects words, some of the vocabulary might be more advanced for some of the younger readers. Also, there’s a bit of a romance(ish; they’re more just really good friends though the hint is there) but it’s pretty tame. Is in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.
All Felicity Juniper Pickle wants is to stop moving. Sure, she’s used to her mother’s wandering ways — the longest they’ve ever stayed in one spot has been six months — but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t long for the comforts of a true home and the ability to make friends. So when the Pickled Jalapeño (that’s their car) rolls into Felicity’s mom’s hometown of Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, Felicity hopes that they will finally settle down and call this Home.
Of course, getting her mom to settle down isn’t all that simple. And the longer they stay in town the more secrets are revealed about the town’s history. About why the ice cream there is so good. About why Felicity can actually see words floating through the air. And, mostly, about why her mother is so keen on wandering, and how Felicity can get her to stop.
And it all involves… a snicker of magic.
It’s a very quiet book, this, with a quiet sort of magic. And as I was reading this charming little story, the thought that came to me the most was that this felt a lot like Ingrid Law’s Savvy. This one is more Southern and small-town-ish than Savvy is, but at its heart, they’re quite similar. Both have a strong female character at the core, one who is determined to not only keep their family together, but to figure out how she fits in with everything else. And the magic is similar as well. Felicity sees words and “catches” them, by writing them down. (Which leads to a lot of fun word play: in addition to making words up — like spindiddly — words have textures, shapes and colors. It’s pretty cool.) The Blackberry Sunrise ice cream makes you remember. Her uncle sees colors when he plays notes. Someone in town doesn’t show up in pictures. Nothing grand, nothing life-changing, but magic nonetheless.
But it was more the feel of the book, the discovery of finding a home, a place to fit in. And Felicity’s desire to help her mother move past her divorce (dad just walked out on them), and their realization that home can mean a lot of different things. Full of delightful characters and quirky magic, it’s a delight to read.