Synopses & Reviews
A powerful novel about friendship and family that calls to mind Bridge to Terabithia
Twelve-year-old John Fischer Jr., or Little John” as he's always been known, is spending his summer helping his father with his tree removal business, clearing brush for Mr. King, the wealthy owner of a chain of Texas dollar stores, when he hears a beautiful song that transfixes him. He follows the melody and finds, not a bird, but a young girl sitting in the branches of a tall sycamore tree.
There's something magical about this girl, Gayle, especially her soaring singing voice, and Little John's friendship with Gayle quickly becomes the one bright spot in his life, for his home is dominated by sorrow over his sister's death and his parents ever-tightening financial difficulties.
But then Mr. King draws Little John into an impossible choice forced to choose between his family's survival and a betrayal of Gayle that puts her future in jeopardy.
Inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen story, Nightingale's Nest is an unforgettable novel about a boy with the weight of the world on his shoulders and a girl with the gift of healing in her voice.
"Drawing from the Hans Christian Andersen story 'The Nightingale,' Loftin (The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy) contrasts the uplifting friendship between 12-year-old narrator Little John and an otherworldly foster child with the oppressive poverty of a Texas setting and the burdens of grief. Still reeling from the death of his sister, Little John helps his landscaper father on the property of the richest and most powerful man in town, the Emperor. While working there, Little John befriends Gayle, who builds a nest in a tree and whose enchanting voice possesses healing powers and makes her an object of the Emperor's sinister interest. The elements of magical realism are not as potent as the stark descriptions of Little John's difficult life, including his family's precarious economic situation, Little John's estrangement from his former best friend, his mother's tenuous grasp on reality, and his father's drinking problem. Yet the intensity of Little John's predicament as the Emperor enlists his help to capture Gayle's voice offers menacing and memorable tension. Ages 8 12. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Unusual, finely crafted story of loss, betrayal, and healing." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Magical realism meets coming of age in this sensitive and haunting novel....Read this aloud and have both boys and girls alike utterly enraptured." BCCB, starred review
"It is Loftin's skill in depicting both the human and the arboreal characters that will engage and inspire readers. The lyrical, descriptive prose and the hopeful ending will linger long after the final chapter." School Library Journal
"An extraordinary read — I had to tear myself away from it." Katherine Catmull, author of Summer and Bird
"Perfectly captures the challenges of growing up and dealing with loss. Get ready to have your heart touched." Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of the Lost Cities
About the Author
Nikki Loftin lives and writes just outside Austin, Texas, surrounded by dogs, chickens, and small, loud boys. She is also the author of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, which Publishers Weekly called mesmerizing” and Kirkus called irresistible.” Her third novel, Wish Girl, will published in 2015. You can visit her online at www.nikkiloftin.com or on Twitter @NikkiLoftin.