A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

This may be my favorite middle grade book of the year. A SNICKER OF MAGIC  (Scholastic, 2014) is the spindiddly story of Felicity Pickle who has moved to her mother's hometown of Midnight Gulch. Having spent most of her life following Momma's wandering heart all over the country, Felicity is ready to put down some roots and make some friends.

Her ability to see words everywhere — words that let her know what people are thinking and feeling — clues her in right away that Midnight Gulch is a special kind of town. Momma tells her it used to be magical. No wonder it's already feeling like home. Sadly, though, the magic disappeared long ago.

But Felicity soon discovers there may be just a snicker of magic left in Midnight Gulch. And sometimes, that's all you need to make wonderful things happen.

Colorful characters, tantalizing folklore, and splendiferous ice cream (that seems to be scoops of magic itself) are just some of the magical elements debut author Natalie Lloyd uses to weave this heart-warming tale of love, friendship and magic. Fans of SAVVY and BLISS will adore this book (for grades 4-7).



Laine learned a lot of things from her friend Leah over the years. Most of them bad. Now a horrible accident has left Leah dead and Laine wonders if maybe it's all her fault.

Laine couldn't understand why the popular girl ever wanted to be friends in the first place. Back in elementary school, Leah insisted they were BFF despite the manipulative and mean way she treated Laine. But when Leah convinces her to "practice" in the closet, things take a dark turn. Laine feels ashamed and confused about what's happening, but Leah acts like the whole thing is no big deal.

LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL (Candlewick, 2007) explores the years long relationship between Leah and Laine and the secrets that both bind them and threaten to destroy them. It's dark and disturbing, written with an authenticity that may make you wonder if the story is auto-biographical (it's not).

Abuse has a ripple effect, creating a chain of pain that seeps into every crevice of the victim's life and author Jo Knowles paints a disturbingly real picture of how certain events stay with us forever and can be integral in defining the kind of person we become.

Although the story begins in elementary school, the story is definitely for an older reader -- probably 9th grade and up. Highly recommended.


Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! by Chris Barton and Joey Spiotto

I don't often post about picture books, but this one just warmed my little nerdy heart so much I had no choice.

Attack! Boss! Cheat code! (A Gamer's Alphabet) -- published by POW -- is an A, B, C book of words any kid who can't stand to part with his Nintendo controller can appreciate.

I'm a Chris Barton fan (Shark vs. Train is a big fave in our house). Joey Spiotto puts his game industry experience to good use capturing various video game styles in his illustrations. From Attack to Zerg, Barton and Spiotto have created a fun alphabet adventure that even impressed my resident tween gamer.

Pick one up for the little gamer in your house. It's the perfect book for when game time is done for the day.