Author Feature-Nikki Loftin

 


Spirit of Texas Reading Program

Middle School

Featured Author

Nikki Loftin

Nikki Loftin

Nightingale's Nest
The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy
Wish Girl

Nikki Loftin is the author of three novels for young readers: Wish Girl, which the New York Times called "a quietly poetic story about psychological truths"; Nightingale's Nest, named as "the next great book" by the Children's Literacy Foundation in 2014, and awarded the best children's book of 2014 by the Texas Institute of Letters; and The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, winner of the Writer's League of Texas Book Award 2013.

Nikki earned her MA from UT Austin in English/Fiction Writing, and teaches writing workshops in the U.S. and abroad. She lives and writes in the Texas Hill Country, surrounded by goats, dogs, chickens, and rambunctious boys. For inspiration, Nikki reads gory fairy tales, eats ridiculous amounts of ice cream, and, when all else fails, puts on a unicorn head and runs around her office to draw the Muse's attention.

 

Find her on the web:

Twitter

Website

 


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Book Trailer

 


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Book Quiz

Nightingale's Nest

Printable Copy

  1. Why didn't Little John have times for friends?  
    1. He was grounded.  
    2. He had to work with his father. 
    3. He wanted to spend all his time having funerals for dead animals. 
    4. He spent all his extra time playing video games.
  2. What did Little John feel like he needed to fix?  
    1. His mother's refusal to accept his sister's death.  
    2. His father's lack of responsibility  
    3. Taking Gayle to sing for the Emperor.  
    4. All of the above.
  3. What does Gayle mean when she says, "I never sung anything back that was so bad off?"  
    1. She never sang a song better the second time if she didn't sing it well the first time.  
    2. She wasn't able to sing to get animals to come to her. 
    3. She had never healed a creature with music that was very badly injured.  
    4. She was able to cure "The Emperor" with music.
  4. Why did Gayle live with Mrs. Cutlin?  
    1. Mrs. Cutlin was her aunt.  
    2. Mrs. Cutlin's daughter was Gayle's friend.  
    3. Gayle was Mrs. Cutlin's maid and housekeeper.  
    4. Mrs. Cutlin was Gayle's foster parent.  
  5. What was ironic about Gayle's name for John?  
    1. John and his father cut down trees to earn a living.  
    2. John was afraid to climb trees.  
    3. John cut down the tree that held Gayle's nest.  
    4. All of the above.
  6. What event caused John's mother to become mentally unstable?  
    1. John's little sister died.  
    2. John's father spent the rent money on steaks and beer.  
    3. John spent too much time with Gayle.  
    4. Earnest and Raelynn threw rocks at her and called her names.
  7. Where was Gayle most at home?  
    1. At Ms. Cutlin's house.  
    2. At the "Emperor's" house.  
    3. At John's house.  
    4. In a nest she had built.
  8. Why did John convince Gayle to sing for the Emperor?    
    1. His family was about to be evicted and he needed the money to pay the rent.  
    2. He wanted the Emperor to make Gayle famous by playing her voice on the radio.  
    3. He didn't think any harm would come to Gayle.  
    4. He wanted to show his family that he "was good for something."
  9. Why did John cut his hair?  
    1. His head was infected with lice.   
    2. He used it to build Gayle a new nest.  
    3. He shaved his head because Gayle had pulled out her hair.  
    4. B and C.
  10. Why was John so afraid of climbing trees?  
    1. He'd fallen out of tree and broken his arm when he was 5.  
    2. His father beat him whenever he climbed a tree.  
    3. His sister died after she fell out of tree. 
    4. Ernest told John too many stories about scary ghosts that lived in trees.

 

The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy

Printable Copy

  1. Where was Lorelei going when she saw the bulldozers?  
    1. She was going to the park to play with her brother Bryan.  
    2. She was going to visit her grandmother.  
    3. She was going to her dad's wedding.  
    4. She was going to a concert.
  2. What happened to Lorelei's old school, Willow Springs Middle School?  
    1. The school was closed due to a rat infestation.  
    2. The school burned down because of faulty wiring.  
    3. The teacher's all left to teach at the new school.  
    4. The school closed and they were going to bus the kids to another middle school.
  3. What was inside the student desks?  
    1. There were textbooks inside.  
    2. There were donuts and candy inside.  
    3. There were all their school supplies inside.  
    4. There was an endless supply of candy inside.  
  4. What did Andrew tell Lorelei about the candy?  
    1. He warned her that it was poisoned.  
    2. He warned her that it had fallen on the ground and was dirty.  
    3. He warned her that it was addictive.  
    4. He warned her that others shouldn't watch her eat.
  5. What happened to the sand when it burned?  
    1. It didn't burn.  
    2. It turned blue.  
    3. It turned to stone.  
    4. It turned green.
  6. What happened to make Lorelei forget about burning the sand?   
    1. Ms. Morrigan gazed into her eyes and told her she wouldn't remember.  
    2. Ms. Morrigan slapped her and told her to forget about it.  
    3. Ms. Morrigan convinced her that she imaged it.  
    4. Ms. Morrigan told her that truth.
  7. Where was Lorelei's special work station?  
    1. She worked outside on the playground.  
    2. She was Ms. Morrigan's special helper.  
    3. She helped out in music class.  
    4. She worked in the kitchen.
  8. Who was the head witch?  
    1. Ms. Morrigan was the head witch.  
    2. Molly was the head witch.  
    3. Threnody was the head witch.  
    4. Principal Trapp was the head witch.
  9. What name did Lorelei use in the message to Andrew?  
    1. Aphrodite  
    2. Persephone  
    3. Athena  
    4. Hestia
  10. What happened to Principal Trapp?  
    1. She was pushed into the boiling water.  
    2. She left to start another school.  
    3. She just disappeared.  
    4. She melted when water was thrown on her. 

 

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Academic Programs 

Program 1: The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy

Printable Copy of Program

Supplemental Documents

Technique 1

Technique 2

Program Title: Promote your Splendid School

Introduction/Purpose of the Program:

Students will use propaganda techniques to convince other students to attend their Splendid School.

TEKS:

  • 110.26 ELA, Speech 5A

Detailed Description of the Program:

Using their school Passive Program for The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, students will use propaganda techniques to convince others to attend their Splendid School.

Discuss the different types of propaganda techniques: appeal to authority, bandwagon, fear, glittering generalities, loaded words, name calling, plain folk, repetition, testimonials, and transfer. (See PowerPoint links in resources for ideas)

Students choose one of the propaganda techniques and persuade others to attend their Splendid School. Students may choose to create a flyer, a commercial, newspaper/internet ad., billboard, radio, website, etc.

Program Related Books to Display or Book Talk:

  • The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy

List of Supplies

  • Video camera (smartphone, tablet) 
  • video editing software
  • computers
  • paper
  • pencils
  • colored pencils
  • markers
  • poster board
  • scissors
  • glue

Resources (print and electronic)

Objective:

Students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of propaganda by creating and presenting an advertisement using one technique of propaganda.

Directions:

Pick a partner that you know will stay focused and work well with you. (You may work alone. There should not be more than two people in a group without teacher permission.)

  • Pick one of your Splendid Schools to advertise.
  • Pick one of the propaganda techniques from our list to use to advertise your school.
  • Organize your advertisement. Consider these questions:
    • What is the school designed for? 
    • Who is your target audience (parents or students)?
  • Create a rough draft or storyboard.
  • Edit and Finalize your project. Check for format, language, grammar, etc.
  • Present your work to the class.

Program 2: Wish Girl

Printable Copy of Program

Program Title: Express Yourself through Environmental Art

Introduction:

In the book Wish Girl, Annie considers herself a serious artist. She and Peter use what they find in the valley to create works of environmental art even while knowing that this type of art is transitory and may disappear with the next puff of wind.

TEKS:

  • 117.202. Art, Middle School 1
    • (2) Creative expression. The student communicates ideas through original artworks using a variety of media with appropriate skills. The student expresses thoughts and ideas creatively while challenging the imagination, fostering reflective thinking, and developing disciplined effort and progressive problem-solving skills. The student is expected to:
      • (A) Create original artworks based on direct observations, original sources, personal experiences, and the community;
      • (B) Apply the art-making process to solve problems and generate design solutions; and
      • (C) Produce artworks, including drawings, paintings, and prints, sculptures/modeled forms, ceramics, fiber art, photographic imagery, and digital art and media, using a variety of materials.

Description of Program:

Students may work by independently or with a group.

  • Step 1: Search online, using the links below, for environment art projects to get ideas about what can be created.
  • Step 2: Students will go outside and look for/gather natural materials such as rocks, leave, trees, branches, grasses, nests, etc.
  • Step 2: Using own imagination and materials found in nature create an art display in situ.
  • Step 3: Using a digital camera or cell phone camera, take a picture of your creation and share it with librarian. Librarian will print your photo and display in the library, on the library blog or Pinterest board..

Books to Display or Booktalk:

Evaluate current collection for books on environmental art. Purchase and display additional items.

  • Green Guide for Artists: non-toxic recipes, green art ideas by Karen Michel
  • Jumbo Book of Outdoor Art by Irene Luxbacher

Supplies:

  • Digital camera or cell phone camera. 
  • All other supplies will be found outdoors in nature.

Incentives:

Students will have the photograph of their art/sculpture on display in the library.

Resources:

Program 3: Create a "Novel" Game from The Loftin Novels

Printable Copy of Program

Supplemental Documents

Rubric 1

Rubric 2

Introduction/Purpose of Program

The three novels written by Nikki Loftin, Wish Girl, The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, and The Nightingale's Nest, have some common factors: 1) they're based on fairy tales, 2) have protagonists who must overcome significant internal issues, and 3) include outcomes that don't always seem positive. Each novel is based on the Hero's Journey trope.

The programming invites students to examine and interpret the novel(s) from varied points of view through the creation of a novel based board game.

TEKS

  • Grade 6 
    • English Language Arts and Reading 110.18. 
      • (3) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Theme and Genre. Students analyze, make inferences and draw conclusions about theme and genre in different cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding. Students are expected to:
        • (A) infer the implicit theme of a work of fiction, distinguishing theme from the topic;
        • (B) analyze the function of stylistic elements (e.g., magic helper, rule of three) in traditional and classical literature from various cultures.
      • (6) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Fiction. Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of fiction and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. Students are expected to:
        • (A) summarize the elements of plot development (e.g., rising action, turning point, climax, falling action, and denouement) in various works of fiction;
      • (12) Reading/Comprehension of Information Text/Procedural Texts. Students understand how to glean and use information in procedural texts and documents. Students are expected to:
        • (A) follow multi-tasked instructions to complete a task, solve a problem, or perform procedures.
      • (17) Writing/Expository and Procedural Texts. Students write expository and procedural or work-related texts to communicate ideas and Information to specific audiences for specific purposes. Students are expected to:
        • (D) produce a multimedia presentation involving text and graphics using available technology.
      • (28) Listening and Speaking/Teamwork. Students work productively with others in teams. Students will continue to apply earlier standards with greater complexity. Students are expected to participate in student-led discussions by eliciting and considering suggestions from other group members and by identifying points of agreement and disagreement.

Detailed Description of the Program

Students will work in small groups of 3-4 to create a board game based upon the novel(s). Successful completion of the project will demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the setting, plot, character motivation, and ?.

  1. Analyze the setting and determine which parts are key to the story.
  2. List the obstacles the characters encounter and overcome. Consider alternative outcomes.
  3. List the characters and other factors that assist the characters.
  4. Identify and design game components (pieces, playing cards, spinner, dice, etc.)
  5. Create a rough draft of the game board.
  6. Play the game and modify to address issues.

Program Related Books to Display or Book Talk

  • Adams, Carol and Susan Allison. Journey to Gameland: How to Make a Board Game from Your Favorite Children's Book. Lantern Books: NY. 2001.
  • Loftin, Nikki.
  • Selinker, Mike, Kobold Guide to Board Game Design. Open Design, LLC: Denver. 2011.
  • Tinsman, Brian. The Game Inventor's Guidebook: How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-Playing Games, & Everything in Between!. Morgan James Publishing: NY. 2008.

List of Supplies

  • Poster board (or other weighty cardboard Markers, colors, pens
  • Art supplies to create 3 dimensional objects (For example, students might include trees as a part of A Nightingale's Nest.)
  • Option: Make Your Own Game Kit available for Amazon.com

Resources (print and electronic)

Print

  • Adams, Carol and Susan Allison. Journey to Gameland: How to Make a Board Game from Your Favorite Children's Book. Lantern Books: NY. 2001.
  • Loftin, Nikki.
  • Selinker, Mike, Kobold Guide to Board Game Design. Open Design, LLC: Denver. 2011.
  • Tinsman, Brian. The Game Inventor's Guidebook: How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-Playing Games, & Everything in Between!. Morgan James Publishing: NY. 2008.

Electronic

Professional Resources (for librarian and teacher use)

 

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Active Programs

Program 1: Nightingale's Nest & Wish Girl

Printable Copy of Program

Grant a Wish – Be a Genie

Introduction/Purpose of Program

Nikki Loftin's novels, The Wish Girl and Nightingale's Nest contain characters whose life would be improved if their wishes could be fulfilled. This program invites participants to explore ways in which they can work to grant the wishes of those in need. Through participation, teens gain empathy, learn problem solving skills and develop their ability to work with others.

Detailed Description of the Program

This program is a community outreach with the flexibility to go many different directions. The primary aim is to make teens aware of the needs of others and explore ways to fulfill those needs. The target group served could be children with cancer or other serious illnesses, senior citizens, folks with physical disabilities, etc. The timeframe of this project makes it well suited for a summer reading program.

After readers have read one or more of Loftin's books, invite participants to spend some time thinking individually and in small group dialogue listing areas of need in their community. Brainstorm ideas about how to fulfill the needs and identify any obstacles. If many groups are identified and there are sufficient number of interested teens, more than one area of need may be addressed in the given time period.

As an option to teens identifying areas of need, adult leaders could pre-identify areas of need and invite representatives from those organizations to present.

For example, a local nursing home might have a need for teens to come and play games with residents. Obstacles might include transportation to the facility, access to games, or facility restrictions about younger visitors. Participants will need to prepare a proposal that identifies the need to be addressed, the method of addressing the need, recognizable obstacles and a plan to address the obstacles, any supplies or funds required, (including a plan to procure supplies or raise money), the number of participants, and expected outcomes.

Invite participants to keep a journal, photo journal, or create a video as a means to capturing their learnings and feelings about the experience.

Program Related Books to Display or Book Talk

  • Ancona, George. Can We Help?: Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities. New York: New York, 2015. Print.
  • Loftin, Nikki. Nightingale's Nest. New York: New York, 2014. Print.
  • Loftin, Nikki. Wish Girl. New York: New York, 2016. Print.
  • Sundem, Garth, and Garth Sundem. Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change: Courageous Actions around the World. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Pub., 2010. Print.
  • Taylor, Tanis. 31 Ways to Change the World: We Are What We Do. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2010. Print.

List of Supplies

  • Paper, pens, pencils
  • Computers or devices capable of connecting to internet for research
  • Means of photography / video
  • To be determined by projects selected

Incentives

  • Certificates of participation denoting hours of community service
  • Host a party for all participants
  • Invite community leaders to recognize project participants

Resources

Print

  • Ancona, George. Can We Help?: Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities. New York: New York, 2015. Print.
  • Loftin, Nikki. Nightingale's Nest. New York: New York, 2014. Print.
  • Loftin, Nikki. Wish Girl. New York: New York, 2016. Print.
  • Sundem, Garth, and Garth Sundem. Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change: Courageous Actions around the World. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Pub., 2010. Print.
  • Taylor, Tanis. 31 Ways to Change the World: We Are What We Do. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2010. Print.

Online Resources

Professional Resources (for librarian and teacher use)

  • Berman, Sally. Service Learning: A Guide to Planning, Implementing, and Assessing Student Projects. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2006. Print.
  • Payne, David A. Evaluating Service Learning Activities and Programs. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2000. Print.

Program Flyers, Posters, Advertisements, Bulletin Board Ideas, Templates, Rubrics, etc.

  • Create a photo collage (or bulletin board of projects and participants)

Program 2: The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy

Printable Copy of Program

A Sweet Playground

Participants will create a playground out of candy and other edibles.

Participants should first come up with a rough draft of their playground. They will need to decide what candy will be used to create each piece of playground equipment.

Equipment suggestions: merry-go-round, see-saw, swing set, sandbox, slides, jungle gym, rock climbing, monkey bars, etc.

Participants will use candy glued together by chocolate to make the items. (Optional: Candy can be left in wrappers and a hot glue gun can used to attach pieces together.)

Each group can create their own playground or create a piece of equipment to be a part of a larger playground made by all.

Program Related Books to Display or Book Talk

  • The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy

List of Supplies

  • Candy (M&Ms, Skittles, KitKats, Snickers, Dots, Twizzlers, Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey's Bars, Hershey's Miniatures, Suckers, Fun Dip, Candy Canes, etc)
  • Chocolate Chips (melted with oil)
  • Oil
  • Spoons
  • Q-tips
  • Paint brushes
  • Bowls (microwave safe)
  • paper, pencils, colored pencils
  • Glue gun
  • Glus sticks


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Passive Programs 

Program 1: Passive Program for Nightingale's Nest

Printable Copy of Program

Build-a-Nest

In Nightingale's Nest, Gale builds herself a nest. Readers will create a model or drawing of the nest they imagine she created or a create or draw a nest they would want to live in.

Program Related Books to Display or Book Talk

  • Nightingale's Nest by Nikki Loftin
  • Books and field guides about birds and bird nests
    • Examples:
      • Nature's Sketch Book by Marjolein Bastin
      • Birds, Nests, and Eggs by Mel Boring
      • All About Birds: A Kids' Book About Birds by Nicholas Eliot

Supplies

  • Found items from nature that readers gather (sticks, leaves, moss, feathers, etc.)
  • Other "stick like" objects (drinking straws or popsicle sticks)
  • Fabric scraps for nest lining
  • Drawing supplies (paper, pencils, colors, markers, etc.)
  • Glue
  • Balls of string or yarn

Readers who participate will have their picture taken with their created nest and images will be on display with the product. Host a Creator's Choice award, allowing participants and library patrons to cast a ballot for their favorite nest (or create categories, like Most Comfortable, Most Like to Attract a Real Bird, Largest, Smallest, etc.)

Resources

Print

  • Nightingale's Nest by Nikki Loftin
  • Books and field guides about birds and bird nests
    • Examples:
      • Nature's Sketch Book by Marjolein Bastin
      • Birds, Nests, and Eggs by Mel Boring
      • All About Birds: A Kids' Book About Birds by Nicholas Eliot

Websites

Program 2: Wish Girl

Printable Copy of  Program

Express Yourself with Art from Nature

Introduction

Children are naturally creative and from a young age have used sticks, stones, and leaves to make art. In the book Wish Girl, Annie considers herself a serious artist. She and Peter use what they find in the valley to create works of environmental art even while knowing that this type of art is transitory and may disappear with the next puff of wind.

Description of the Program

Participants may complete simple, nature themed coloring pages.

Using materials provided by the library, participants will create rock paintings by painting on clean, dry stones. Set completed stone on a piece of construction paper labeled with the title of the work and the artists. Display in library.

Fill the acrylic box with sand approximately 1 inch deep and add a few small pebbles and river rock or use your Zen Garden kit. Set the box on a low table and allow students to rake, set small pebbles, or otherwise manipulate the sand to create a small display.

Students glue leaves, twigs, grass on construction paper to create a nature themed art piece. Label with title of work and artist. Designate a bulletin board or wall area on which to display completed artwork.

Program Related Books to Display or Book Talk

  • The Kids' Nature Book: 365 Indoor/Outdoor Activities and Experiences by Susan Milo
  • Fun With Nature: Take Along Guide by Mel Boring
  • The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms by Clare Walker Leslie

List of Supplies

  • Nature themed coloring pages
  • Crayons
  • Rocks,leaves, twigs,
  • Sand
  • Acrylic box (11 x 14 or larger) from craft store or online or purchase Zen Garden kit.
  • Heavy Construction paper
  • Poster paint & brushes
  • Glue

Incentives

Students will have their art or photograph of their art displayed in the library.

Resources

 


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Created on Apr 1, 2016 | Last updated April 17, 2016