03 April 2015
Nightbird by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I can't say I'm too too familiar with Alice Hoffman. I know she's responsible for a lot of well-loved stories, but I can't recall reading anything of hers before now. Nightbird is her first foray into middle grade and it's pretty wonderful on a whole.
The story is about Twig, who lives in a small Massachusetts town that's best known for having a local monster. A few have claimed to see it, but it mostly just steals things and is one of those local attractions that small towns tend to have. The wrinkle for Twig is that her family was cursed by someone in this town centuries ago, and, since the moon is right and the monster might be personal, this might be the best possible opportunity to break it.
This book is a little quieter than most middle grade books like it, which might be a flaw if the tone wasn't so specific. Being from Massachusetts, we all grow up with stories of the Salem Witch Trials, of Lizzie Borden, of small towns having lake monsters or yetis or what have you. With the length of history in the area, these small towns get their charm in part from these tales and the benefits and drawbacks that come with them. This book becomes charming due to how accurately it portrays these little pockets of interest in a small town, and, really, how it can sometimes impact families as well (even if the example in this book is more fantastical in nature).
Overall, I believe fans of Alice Hoffman will like this, but, as a short and charming middle grade read, a lot of other readers will, too, especially those kids who like books in this style and have interests in the more weird portions of local history. A fun read.
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