LENGTH: 320 pages
SOURCE: purchased, Scholastic Book Fair
REVIEW: With Lloyd’s first novel, whimsy reigns. Ice cream that helps one remember, a network of do-gooders throughout the city, and a little girl who sees words floating around people that can help them find themselves. Lloyd also tackles some tough topics like broken families, abandonment, and the effects of transience on children, but does so within a definite structure of hope.
Felicity loves her mother and knows that her wandering heart is a product of suffering love’s loss. Felicity along with Aunt Cleo attempt to convince Mama that home is a feeling rather than a place. The characters, although not all strictly members of Felicity’s family, definitely comprise a loving community of support for Felicity, Frannie Jo, and Mama. In the end, Felicity’s is a story of coming home. It is Lloyd’s blend of small-town wholesomeness and big-city acceptance that makes Midnight Gulch the perfect place for the Pickles to call home.
BRIDGE: This would be a great book with which to teach folklore. The stories that frame the history of Midnight Gulch have all the elements of traditional folk tales. The most obvious bridge would be discussing vocabulary: specifically connotations. Felicity sees words floating above people and places and while the words themselves are related, the implications behind the words are much more powerful in the context of the story.
READERS and OTHER TITLES: Readers who need a little magic in their lives or want a story to warm the heart will enjoy Lloyd’s story. This title would also be a good text to use as a bit of light, but meaningful reading between heavier texts. This book reminds me of several other stories in which magical realism plays a major role: Savvy by Ingrid Law, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, or Ida B… by Katherine Hannigan.