A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd – Review by Beth Shaum

I live in a town that used to be full of magic. I think there’s still magic here. It’s just been playing hide-and-seek for a very long time. This town is also full of sad stories and sweet people. I like it here. I want to stay forever.

Felicity Juniper Pickle lives a nomadic life with her mama and little sister Frannie Jo. But miraculously, one day her mama’s wandering heart has brought them back to her hometown of Midnight Gulch,Tennessee to live with mama’s sister Cleo. Midnight Gulch used to be a special place, full of magic and wonder, but thanks to the curse of the Brothers Threadbare, the people of Midnight Gulch see it as a shell of its former self, leaving everyone longing for the good old days.

When Felicity arrives in Midnight Gulch, she sees its potential. Magic is all around her just waiting to be discovered. But the magic she finds isn’t in grand spectacles, sleight of hand, or nature-defying tricks. Instead, she sees magic in the kind-hearted, generous, and sometimes even eccentric people who call this place home.

Felicity has her own kind of magic. As a word collector, she sees words all around her, moving and creating pictures, even having their own unique flavors. Love, for instance, tastes like cotton candy and lonely tastes like sand. The word moniker  “[dangles] monkeylike down from the ceiling,” and the word friend flutters, is squirmy and buglegged, but also has a set of golden wings. And it’s because of her new friend Jonah, the town do-gooder who recruits Felicity to help out with his Good Samaritan duties, that she begins seeing new and exciting words all around her.

The one word Felicity has never seen before, until she arrived in Midnight Gulch, is the word home. But in order for home to be more than a word floating above her just out of reach, she must first find a way to break the Threadbare curse and bring back the magic of Midnight Gulch, otherwise she may never be able to temper her mama’s wandering heart.


Every so often a book comes along where you say to yourself, “I feel privileged to know that I live in a world where books like this exist.” They are books that are forever imprinted upon your heart, a heartprint book if you will.

What makes A Snicker of Magic so, well, magical is Natalie Lloyd’s pure, unadulterated love of words. She’s like the sommelier of words, making just the right pairings so that you want to swish them around and let them linger on your tongue for a while. The language is so decadent and literary, yet the story and characters are accessible and appealing to kids at the same time; it’s not above their heads as literary novels tend to be. A Snicker of Magic is right up there with Wonder and The One and Only Ivan for its read-aloud appeal. And you heard it from me first folks, I have already staked my claim this early in the year that A Snicker of Magic is THE book I will be rooting for to win the 2015 Newbery. I love it THAT much. When I came to the end of the story, I cried. Not because the ending was sad, but because I was sad that it ended. I just didn’t want to leave Midnight Gulch.

“A snicker?”

“That’s magic that’s leftover,” Jonah explained. “Not good for much, not as fancy as it used to be – but enough to make it special.”

There’s certainly much more than a snicker of magic to make Natalie Lloyd’s debut novel special. But unlike fantasy stories filled with dragons, wizards, and paranormal beings, Lloyd has found magic in everyday pleasures: words, small town life, and of course Dr. Zook’s blackberry sunrise ice cream. Not only will readers be sad to leave Midnight Gulch as they linger on the last lines of A Snicker of Magic, but they’ll also be wondering when Natalie Lloyd plans to open a real life Dr. Zook’s Dreamery Creamery to experience the magic for themselves. Or maybe they’ll even be so desperate to keep the magic going that they try to make their own like yours truly:

snicker of ice cream

However you choose to let the magic linger, one thing’s for sure: A Snicker of Magic is a splendiferous novel that the children’s lit world will be celebrating as long as there are still books to celebrate. So make sure to pre-order or head over to your local indie February 25th — and also think about getting an ice cream maker while you’re at it, just in case Dr. Zook comes calling.


Check out Beth’s interview with author Natalie Lloyd on her blog, A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust. 



Beth Shaum is a former middle school teacher and a self-proclaimed sommelier of ice cream. One of her greatest pleasures in life is to concoct strange flavors in her Canton, Michigan kitchen. She’s made everything from olive oil to maple bacon ice cream, so Dr. Zook’s Dreamery Creamery is right up her alley. When she’s not thinking up creative ice cream flavors or reading everything from picture books to young adult literature, you can probably find her on some form of social media, as she is the social media coordinator for NCTE. If you want to know how she made blackberry sunrise ice cream, just tweet her: @BethShaum. But be warned: she hasn’t perfected the recipe yet – she’s going to need a snicker of magic for that.