Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley in order to facilitate a review. No other compensation was received. All opinions expressed are honest and my own. Affiliate links appear in post.
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Alice Hoffman’s Nightbird is a gentle, enchanting tale perfect for middle grade readers who like to look for magic in the everyday.
Nightbird’s narrator is Twig, a “tall for her age” 12yo girl living on a vast orchard on the edge of small-town Sidwell, Massachusettes. Twig brings the reader into her confidence right away, and is an easy, likable guide through the story.
Twig and her mother have a secret, one that keeps them separate from the town, and separate from friends – that is, until the Halls and their two young daughters move into the house down the road. Twig’s first neighbors ever, and as it turns out, descendants of the woman who brought her family lasting turmoil generations before.
Told alongside the mystery of Twig and her family’s secrets, and Twig’s growing fascination with the Halls, is the mystery of the nearby woods, and why someone is spreading graffiti across Sidwell warning them all to keep out.
There is a beauty and openness to Hoffman’s writing that makes Nightbird a joy to read. There is an air among the pages that easily brings these characters – and the town and surroundings of Sidwell (which seems like a character itself in Nightbird) – to life. Every thread is woven together beautifully for a satisfying end.
Adult or teen readers of Nightbird might wish for more complexity in the characters or plot or pacing, but the simple, straightforward approach to family, friendship, love, and magic is just right for middle grade readers. I imagine this as a fantastic read-aloud for a 5th or 6th grade class.