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Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

Nightbird (edition 2015)

by Alice Hoffman

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2743962,086 (3.97)15
Authors:Alice Hoffman
Info:Wendy Lamb Books (2015), Hardcover, 208 pages
Collections:Your library

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Nightbird by Alice Hoffman



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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
For many years, Alice Hoffman's books have been sitting on my reading list. When I first wanted to immerse myself in Magical Realism, it was her books that most of my trusted fellow bookworms pointed to. Sadly, I still haven't gotten to any of them. Which is why, when I saw that Nightbird was not only a new story by Alice Hoffman, but an MG book as well, I was instantly sold.

There are a lot little pieces to completely fall in love with in this story, not the least of which are the characters. Each one is completely original, and has a sense of whimsy about them that just adds to the magic of this story. Twig was absolutely wonderful as a main character. Sweet and honest. Brave and true. Her story of sweets and secrets swept me up, and carried me along. I only wished that there had been a bit more depth to all the amazing people who populated this story. While the writing is gorgeous, the characters felt lacking to me. I loved of a small town full of quirky people, and I would have liked to learn more.

In fact, despite my fervent ardor for the story at the heart of this book, I felt like much of it wasn't fully explored. I'm very much in favor of MG stories that don't underestimate their audiences. Young readers deserve complex plots, exciting twists, and honest depictions of emotions just as much as any other age group. Which is why I had to knock my star rating down a bit for Nightbird. As I mentioned above, the writing is lovely and matches the magical nature of this book perfectly. If only the characters had been stronger, and the climactic points a bit sharper, this would have been a perfect read for me.

As it stands, Alice Hoffman has still proven she is a strong MG writer. My glimpse into her first book for younger readers has further strengthened by want to read her adult books as well. I'd recommend this story to young readers who love magical realism. Readers who look at the world, and see not only what is, but what could be as well. ( )
  roses7184 | Feb 5, 2019 |
Twig lives with her mother and brother in the town of Sidwell. In Sidwell, there is talk of a monster that lurks in the area and such talk is beginning to bring fear to the people who live there.

Twig is a loner. She isn’t allowed to have friends. Her mother wishes to keep their lives private because they are the victims of a two hundred year old curse. The curse falls on the male members of her mother’s family and Twig’s brother James is a victim of the curse. That is why she and her family left New York and Twig’s father behind to return to Sidwell where Twig’s mother felt they would be safe. That is, until the stories of a monster begin to circulate. And then to make matters more interesting the Shelton family moves back to Sidwell to Mourning Dove Cottage. The Sheltons are descendants of Agnes Early, the Witch of Sidwell who is supposedly responsible for the curse on Twig’s family.

The fairytale/fantasy develops with the reader absorbing the loneliness and despair of the Sidwell family. Then there is a glimmer of hope when the Shelton family comes to town as Twig and Julie Shelton try their best at reversing the years old curse. Hoffman brings the reader into a magical world with themes of family, friendship, and love.

As an adult, I enjoyed the book. I believe it would be a good read-aloud with discussion for the early middle grade reader. Unfortunately, even though it is a wonderful story, it might be difficult to get the older middle grade youth to read the book.

This review is written from an galley provided by NetGalley and the Publisher.
( )
  Rdglady | Nov 20, 2018 |
Nothing wrong with it, but nothing particularly right. Well written, but easy to tell that the author is used to writing for adults. The pace is very slow, and I don't really believe the voice is the voice of a 12 year old. And for me personally there isn't enough magic in it. I don't believe that one magical idea makes a fantasy novel. ( )
  Inky_Fingers | Oct 12, 2018 |
This is a well-written book, but I don't think it will be popular with your typical middle schooler. There is much more description than dialogue and the main character is the contemplative type.

Twig is a 12-year-old girl living in a small town in Massachusetts. The story starts off vague about why her mother won't let her have any friends or basically have any kind of life. When a family moves into the old house next door, Twig has to resist the temptation to become friends with one of the daughters. It is apparent that Twig is lonely, but has come to accept it. Soon we learn the reason for her mother's strict requirements. Her brother has inherited a family curse which goes back to the 1700s when her four times great grandfather failed to show up for a secret marriage with a witch who had magical powers. She cursed all males in the family with wings.

Twig's brother is only allowed out at night when he can fly without being seen. He has been sighted multiple times and now people think there is a monster in Sidwell. When he and the neighbor's older daughter, a descendant of the witch, fall for each other, he knows he can't go back to living a life hidden in the attic.

All challenges are resolved at the end, as every good fairytale should. ( )
  valorrmac | May 15, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
Review by: Mark Palm

Well it’s YA Book week, so I would be remiss if I didn’t tackle at least one YA title. Usually I try not to change my critical faculties one bit for any book, no matter the style or genre, but I did change my expectations a bit for Nightbird, by Alice Hoffman, because it’s a book meant for middle-grade readers. Whatever you call it, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Twig is the daughter of the best baker in Sidwell, a bucolic small town of the type you often find in the works of Ray Bradbury. This town has a “monster” the way that Loch Ness has Nessie, or the Barrens have the Jersey Devil. This monster actually exists though. He is Twig’s older brother, James, whom the family has hidden away because of a family curse that gave James black wings that enable him to fly. Their life is a lonely one because they can’t have friends, until a new family move nearby, and Twig befriends the younger daughter, Julia. James begins secretly seeing the older daughter, Agate.

Needless to say things begin to speed up after this. One of the real strengths of this book is that even though this books is meant for younger readers you never get the feeling that Ms. Hoffman is talking down her prose or dumbing down her ideas. There are plenty of sub-plots in Nightbirds; Twig’s mysterious absentee father, a parliament of hidden, endangered owls and their secret benefactor, a rash of petty thieveries, a special school play, etc. As busy as the story is it’s never confusing, as Ms. Hoffman gracefully leads us through. Like Bradbury, whom I mentioned earlier, the town of Sidwell is a magical place. There is enough conflict in the story to make it interesting, but nobody comes off like a serious villain. There is a kind of Sepia glow to this book that I found very charming, but it never got sweet or smarmy.

In the end almost everything comes together beautifully, in such a way that is both surprising and inevitable, which isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds, and it works beautifully because of Ms. Hoffman’s smooth and assured touch. She made me want to move to Sidwell.
Who wouldn’t want to live in a town that has its own monster?

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You can't believe everything you hear, not even in Sidwell, Massachusetts, where every person is said to tell the truth and the apples are so sweet people come from as far as New York City during the apple festival.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385389582, Hardcover)

"Alice Hoffman can write about love like no-one else" Jodi Picoult Twig lives in a remote area of town with her mysterious brother and her mother, baker of irresistible apple pies. A new girl in town might just be Twig's first true friend, and ally in vanquishing an ancient family curse. A spellbinding tale of modern folklore set in the Berkshires, where rumours of a winged beast draw in as much tourism as the town's famed apple orchards.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:34 -0400)

Twig, aged twelve, is practically ignored by classmates and other residents of Sidwell, Massachusetts, but gets along fine with just her mother and brother, whose presence must be kept secret, until descendants of the witch who cursed her family move in next door and want to be her friends.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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