As a general rule of thumb, I’m not a crier. I make exceptions for the occasional sappy movie and anytime my kids are on stage. Oh, and when I was pregnant I could cry during those Coca-Cola commercials with the polar bears. Dang hormones.
The point is I don’t remember the last time my kids saw me cry.
That’s why it’s a little awkward that the two books that made me cry recently are CHILDREN’S BOOKS that I was reading aloud to my CHILDREN. Oy.
On a whim, I picked up A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd while in a bookstore in Corvallis, Oregon. It was on the bookshelf of staff favorites. Now I know why.
My 9-year-old daughter and I devoured this book and her second book The Key to Extraordinary. They were both one of those, “don’t you dare read this without me because I don’t want to miss out” type of books.
The main character in A Snicker of Magic is a 12-year-old girl named Felicity who, after moving over and over, yearns for her family to put down permanent roots. Felicity is a ‘word collector.’ She sees words everywhere – around people and even objects. She explains it better than I ever could…
“At exactly that moment, I saw my first word of the day: Believe. The letters were made of melted sunshine. They dripped down the window glass, warm and tingly against our faces. Believe is a powerful word to see and to say. But that morning, I felt it. And feeling it was the best of all. I knew something wonderful was about to happen to me. I didn’t know what, or why, or how. But I believed.” – Felicity in A Snicker of Magic as written by Natalie Lloyd
A book that can be enjoyed by children and adults cannot be an easy thing to write. Natalie Lloyd transported us into her world and we did not want to leave. Her books were so relatable that on just about every page I wanted to say, “YES! That! Exactly that!”
“…that’s when I realized that it’s possible to have a happy ending, even if the ending isn’t what you imagined…Home isn’t just a house or a city or a place; home is what happens when you’re brave enough to love people.” – Felicity in A Snicker of Magic as written by Natalie Lloyd
Here’s the catch with these two books and why the endings made my eyes leak. The books were not bubblegum fiction. The author weaves in difficult family situations into the storylines. Its part of what makes the characters so relatable. In doing so, she creates a safe place to explore topics of broken homes, military deployments and grief, among others.
The thing is, these books aren’t about death or loss or trauma or abandonment. The books, ultimately, are about love, friendship and hope. The author ends each story with a beautiful moral. So poignant. So hopeful. So healing.
If talking about these topics make you feel uncomfortable, this might be a good way to broach the subject with your child. Or better yet, let your child take the lead – if he or she is ready.
The end of The Key to Extraordinary was one of the most touching passages about grief and healing that I’ve ever read. My kids noticed tears were running down my face, which was a bit concerning to them. My son asked me if I was crying because my mom died.
Ah, gosh. What do you say?
In short, I told him yes. This story of love and hope was so beautifully written and it did remind me of my mom, but in a good way because I loved her so much and she loved me.
“I know some people think of angels and harps and rich stuff when they think of heaven. But I thought about my mom – barefoot on the back porch, her hair blowing long around her face. She’s strumming a guitar that never goes out of tune. She’s singing a song that doesn’t end. She’s thinking of me. I’m thinking of her. Maybe we never really lose the ones we love. Maybe we’re connected, always.” – Emma Pearl in the book Key To Extraordinary as written by Natalie Lloyd.
I don’t want my kids to be afraid of something that’s natural, so I’ve been very open, in an age appropriate way, with the kids about death. They’ve experienced the death of a pet. They know my mom died in a car accident. They know a family friend died unexpectedly recently and left 3 young children behind. They’ve had playdates with these kids and have talked to each other about grief in the way that kids do.
Here’s what my son tells me. In all of his 6-year-old wisdom.
Son: The sun is so bright mom, because it takes in all of our joy and shines it out for everyone to see.
Me: I like that idea.
Son: And do you know what Heaven is like?
Me: No, what’s it like?
Son: It’s like the airport. You know when you have to give them your suitcase and then when you get someplace new your suitcase comes out on that belt?
Me: The conveyer belt in baggage claim?
Son: Yes! Heaven is like that. You give them your suitcase full of sadness. Then when you get there you get a new suitcase filled with joy and happiness and you get to see your mom again.
Me: I think that’s the best description of Heaven I’ve ever heard.
Son: I know.
“In the eyes of many people, I may never live an extraordinary life. But I will love in extraordinary ways. And I hope I choose to always see the best in people.” – Emma Pearl in the book Key To Extraordinary as written by Natalie Lloyd.
Then he throws his arms around me in the biggest bear hug imaginable. With his face buried in my shoulder he says “I love you so much.”
And my heart almost burst from happiness.