Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

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Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lovely story involving friendship, loneliness, an ancient curse and lots and lots of apples. Beautifully written and utterly engaging.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: February 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1471124215

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Twig's mother is the most beautiful woman in Sidwell. She bakes famous Pink Apple pies. Makes delicious lavender honey butter. Has an exotic and mysterious past. And Twig loves her with everything she's got. But not all is well in Twig's world. Friends aren't allowed. Because a friend might discover the secret kept so carefully by Twig and her mother. There is a centuries-old curse on their family. So Twig is a lonely girl...

... until a new family moves into the cottage next door to Twig's farmhouse and Twig embarks on a cautious new friendship with the younger daughter, Julie, and gets to know Agate, her older sister. For the first time, Twig has companionship and someone to share her secrets with. But other secrets, old secrets from the past, bubble up and threaten to break the brittle surface of protection Twig's mother has worked so hard to create.

Can the curse on Twig's family ever be broken?

Firstly, I must say that Nightbird is beautifully written. The prose is elegant and lyrical and it flows like a dream. It's aimed at middle grade readers and both the vocabulary and the imagery are appropriate - neither too challenging nor too simple. The New England, apple country setting is described with great affection and all five senses. I found this story an absolute pleasure to read. It will suit confident readers of eight or nine right up to tweens and early teens. Anyone of that age who enjoys a magical tale will love Nightbird.

I loved Twig as a central character. She is terribly lonely and longs for friendship and an end to the keeping of secrets. But she's also tremendously loyal to her mother and brother and past disappointments have made her defensive. So, when she rejects Julie, you really feel as she does - a little bit cross, a little bit sad, a little bit guilty. It's rotten. And when the friendship grows, despite all the obstacles, you feel truly liberated on Twig's behalf.

There are a few plot twists and secrets along the way and it may be that some are a little bit too easy to decipher, even for a middle grade readership, but this is really the only nitpick I could find to offer you.

Nightbird is a lovely tale of magic, loneliness, friendship and new beginning. And lots and lots of apples. I think you'd love it.

You might also enjoy Cold Tom by Sally Prue, a twist on the Tam Lin folk tale, or Angel by Cliff McNish, an intensely romantic look at personal spirituality.

Buy Nightbird by Alice Hoffman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Nightbird by Alice Hoffman at

Buy Nightbird by Alice Hoffman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Nightbird by Alice Hoffman at


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