In this appealing, quirky middle grade tale of family, belonging and kindness, sixth grader Felicity Pickle and her itinerant family have finally returned to Mama’s hometown 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. She also hopes to cure her Mama’s “wandering heart,” so their family can put down some roots. This is a tale full of warm-hearted folk with cutesy names who speak wisely if idiosyncratically, and each character pops off 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). Review based on an ARC.
Hayley Beale, San Francisco Univ High School