I believe it was Kara of Flowers of Quiet Happiness who first brought this book to my attention. But I can't find her post about it to link to here. ANYWAY! Some blogger I follow who reads junior fiction loved this. I saw it at the library last week, picked it up to read the first couple pages, and knew I had to get it before I'd finished the first chapter.
The best word to describe this book is definitely "spindiddly." Which happens to be a word the main character, Felicity Pickle, uses a lot. Instead of "cool" or "awesome." I like it. I'm saying it in real life. Try saying it yourself! It's very fun to say. As is "Felicity Pickle," actually. And so many other words in this book. It's clearly written by a word-lover, one who remembers childhood vividly. I liked it very much indeed.
Okay, so this is a book about a lonely sixth-grade girl, Felicity, whose mom moves her and her little sister around all over the US, never staying anywhere for very long. Dad walked out years ago and hasn't been heard from since. They arrive back in her mom's home town of Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, and move in with Aunt Cleo. Mom gets a job at the local ice cream factory. Felicity and her little sister go to yet another new-to-them school. And on the very first day, something magical happens: Felicity makes a friend. She's painfully shy, and she even stutters sometimes when she has to talk to strangers, but a boy befriends her nonetheless. Through him, she gets to know the other eccentric people in Midnight Gulch, learns the history of the place, and solves a mystery concerning one of her forebears.
Also, there's magic. Magic woven all through the story -- helpful and benign, completely original and made-up magic, as it turns out, but that IS why I read this first before letting Sam read it. Never know about magic in books -- as a Christian, I am always wary of it, and want to familiarize myself with what's going on in a book that contains magic before I let my kids read it.
What kind of magic is this? Felicity can see words, see them when people say them, see them around people and things like an aura. She collects them by writing them in a book, on her shoes, on her arms, wherever she's got a spot. And is that not one of the best descriptions of a writer ever? Other magic involves ice cream that brings back memories, music only a few people can hear, memories captured inside objects... no spells cast, no Dark Arts. Very imaginative and imaginary. Whimsical, kind of like Edward Eager in a way.
When I'd finished this, I let Sam read it. He polished it off in an afternoon, and his first comment to me about it was, "Is there another one?" Not yet, but I found Natalie Lloyd's blog this morning, and she says there could be a sequel some day. She has another book getting published before long, but it's not a sequel.
Particularly Good Bits:
And I think if you're lucky, a sister is the same as a friend, but better. A sister is like a super-forever-infinity friend (p. 10).
Because home is where shabby hearts like ours belong (p. 52).
And some miracles, the very best miracles of all, show up wearing cowboy boots (p. 101).
"Stories aren't peaceful things. Stories don't care how shy you are. They don't care how insecure you are, either. Stories find their own way out eventually. All you gotta do is turn 'em loose" (p. 146.)
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: G for gumdroppy goodness. Clean and charming -- like I said, I let my 7-year-old read it.