Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

Published by Wendy Lamb Books

Summary:  Twelve-year-old Twig lives in the idyllic western Massachusetts town of Sidwell, where her mother runs an orchard and bakery.  She wishes she had friends, but her mother forbids it.  Turns out Twig’s older brother James was born with wings, part of an ancient family curse, and their mother is determined to hide him from the rest of the town.  But James sneaks out at night, flying over the woods, and now the whole town is convinced there’s a Sidwell monster.  Meanwhile, the family gets some new neighbors, including two girls just the ages of Twig and James, who are related to the witch who cursed Twig’s family 200 years ago.  Their presence sets off a whole chain of events that threatens to disrupt the lives of every member of Twig’s family.  Recommended for grades 4 and up.

Pros:  Twig is a believable and sympathetic narrator, and the magic elements in her life seem natural and ordinary.  Some of my favorite childhood books, by author Edward Eager, are referenced, and this book contains similar elements of magic occurring in the lives of ordinary mortals.

Cons:  I listened to this book on CD, and it took me a while to get through disc 1.  Readers may need a little perseverance at the start.

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