Monday, April 27, 2015

NIGHTBIRD by Alice Hoffman for MMGM



In keeping with this month's inadvertent theme (see Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly and Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose), today's feature also has a bird title.






Nightbird by Alice Hoffman (hardcover, Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, 208 pages, March 10, 2015, for ages 10 and up)

Synopsis (from the book jacket): Rumor has it that Sidwell (Massachusetts) is home to a monster, and tales of sightings draw in as many tourists as do the town's famed Pink apples. Twig's mom owns the orchard and bakes irresistible pies. Because of a family secret, Twig has tried her best to be invisible, but when two girls named Julia and Agate move into Mourning Dove Cottage next door, everything changes. A witch lived there once, and Twig's mother has always forbidden her to step inside. But Julia just might be Twig's first true friend, and her ally in vanquishing an ancient curse.

Why I recommend it:  The writing takes my breath away. Even though the setting is modern (Twig's brother, for instance, has a computer), there is a timeless, dreamlike quality about this book that makes it feel like a fable. This is an excellent book in which to lose yourself for a day or two. Perhaps best read on a warm, soft spring or summer day. Preferably while eating a slice of pie.

Without revealing too much about the plot, my deepest childhood wish involved flying, and this book evokes the joy as well as the obvious dangers of a person soaring silently over the town.

The publisher claims this is Alice Hoffman's first novel for middle grade readers. But I distinctly remember reading both Aquamarine and Indigo, which the bookstore shelved in MG, many years ago, and according to Amazon they're both aimed at preteens. She's also the author of several YA novels, including Green Angel, and many adult novels, including the recent The Dovekeepers, and The Museum of Extraordinary Things.

Favorite lines: "If enchantment could be found anywhere, it would surely be in the Berkshires, where the woods were so green and deep, and a mist rose from the streams that crisscrossed the meadows so that even those of us without wings felt as if we were walking through the clouds."  (from p. 40-41)

Bonus: The budding friendship between Twig and Julia is a gem. Give this to readers looking for friendship novels, and quiet, lovely magical realism.

Alice Hoffman's official website

Other MMGM reviews of NIGHTBIRD:

Jess at the Reading Nook

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. Visit her blog for links to other MMGM posts.

Readers, what was your childhood wish? Did you dream of flying?

16 comments:

  1. Kids and those who still act like one should love this title. I've added it to my TBR list as it sounds very intriguing. Thanks for the review.

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  2. Ooh, this does sound good. Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. It's lovely, Natalie. Both the story and the writing.

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  3. This sounds like a wonderful book. I'll check it out.

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    1. Hope you get a chance to read it, Elizabeth.

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  4. This sounds so lovely! I also happen to be a big fan of Caroline Starr Rose, so that grouping works for me. I'm adding it, with my thanks!

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    1. I'm a big fan of hers too, Suzanne! I know you had a lot going on last week, but if you get the chance, check out last week's review of BLUE BIRDS (below).

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  5. What a beautiful cover! I love magical realism and lyrical writing. You had me when you said it sounded like a fable.

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  6. This sounds amazing! I love the cover and the story sounds right up my alley. I really like the budding friendship you mentioned and I can't wait to read the writing. :)

    I read Aquamarine and I felt it was MG- but maybe it is her first MG with this publisher.

    Awesome review! On my list!
    ~Jess

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    1. That's great, Jess! And I wondered the same thing; it might be her first MG with this publisher. But her own website lists Aquamarine and Indigo as Teen reads.

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  7. I haven't read an Alice Hoffman book in years. I don't know why. I always loved her writing. Thanks for telling me about this one. I will be checking it out. It sounds charming.

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    1. Charming is an excellent word for this, Rosi!

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  8. Thank you for the recommendation! I am listening to this on audio and I am LOVING it! :) The narrator does a fabulous job and the story is just wonderful. So glad I heard about it here. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Oh, Jess. Audio would be fantastic for this book! Glad you're enjoying it.

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