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?