In this appealing, quirky middle grade tale of family, belonging and kindness, 6th grader Felicity Pickle and her itinerant family have finally returned to Mama’s home town of Midnight Gulch, Tennessee – a place that was full of magic until the long-ago Weatherly Brothers fell out and dueled.
Now Felicity brings magic of her own – she sees and collects words from the air – and once she starts investigating the real story of the Weatherly brothers with her new friend Jonah (who happens to be in a wheelchair), she has a chance to bring the magic back to the town, and maybe even cure her Mama’s “wandering heart”, so that their family can put down some roots.
This is a tale full of cutesily named warm-hearted folk (which is usually an absolute turn off for me) who speak wisely if idiosyncratically, and each character pops out of the page and has a role to play. Felicity’s simple desire for a home will strike a chord with many readers, so her discovery that a family need not be conventional, while not original, is heartfelt.
Snicker is sweet without being saccharine, moving without being manipulative, and the climactic re-enactment of the duel packs a mighty emotional punch. Lloyd’s debut is a “spindiddly” tale that will appeal to fans of whimsical titles like Savvy (Law, Dial, 2008) and Three Times Lucky (Turnage, Dial, 2012).