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.
Winner 2014 Texas Institute of Letters Best Children’s Book Award (HEB/Jean Flynn Children’s Book Award)
Bank Street Books – Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2015 Edition
New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2014 – Children’s Books
“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 was the writing, of course, that struck my attention first. Loftin gives the book beautiful sequences filled with equally beautiful sentences. . . . As for the characters, there wasn’t a person here that I couldn’t recognize as real. I was quite taken with the fact that Loftin continually sidesteps a lot of the usual middle grade tropes. . . . Smart and beautiful by turns, Nightingale’s Nest does one thing that few will contest. Once you’ve read it, you’ll have a hard time getting it out of your head.” –Elizabeth Bird, School Library Journal Blog
“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