Monday, February 18, 2019

THE THEORY OF HUMMINGBIRDS by Michelle Kadarusman


'Hummingbirds’ in the title caught my eye—but I was even more intrigued when I discovered the main character was a girl born with talipes equinovarus (clubfoot).   

The cover has the book title with tiny humming birds against a background of green diamonds. This image accompanies a book review at That's Another Story by Andrea L MackDescription from the publisher…

“Hummingbirds and angels don’t need two good feet. They have wings.” That’s what Alba’s mother always says. Of course, Alba doesn’t have wings or two good feet: she has Cleo. Cleo is the name Alba has given to her left foot, which was born twisted in the wrong direction. When she points this out, though, her mother just smiles like the world has some surprise in store she doesn’t know about yet.

Well, Alba has her own surprise planned. After one final surgery and one final cast, Cleo is almost ready to meet the world straight on—just in time to run in the sixth grade cross-country race. Unfortunately, Alba’s best friend Levi thinks there’s no way she can pull it off. And she thinks there’s no way he’s right about the school librarian hiding a wormhole in her office. Tempers flare. Sharp words fly faster than hummingbirds. And soon it looks like both friends will be stuck proving their theories on their own.

The Theory of Hummingbirds, written by Michelle Kadarusman, was published by Pajama Press in 2017.


Why you want to read this book… 

Alba is a strong and interesting character, determined to reach her dream of running in the cross country race, in spite of the doubts of her parents and her best friend. I really loved all the facts about hummingbirds in this story, and I also liked the secretive librarian and the new friend that Alba met from school.


Opening:

Hummingbirds can’t walk. Their feet are too tiny. They perch, but never walk.


If you’re a writer… 

I admired the way the author managed to weave so much into her story, which is short compared to many other middle grade novels. What stands out to me is her skill at creating characters. All the characters have definite personalities with strengths and weaknesses. Interactions between them seem realistic, including the interactions between Alba and her mom. And I love the best friend relationship Alba has with Levi, and how they stay friends even after their fight.

When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics said I could ride along because Levi wouldn’t let go of my hand. The truth is I never would have let go either.


If you’re an educator…

This is such a great book to include in the classroom, because of the way Alba’s foot surgery and abilities are handled so sensitively. As a class read aloud, this would encourage thoughtful reflection about themes related to individual differences, friendship and determination.  

I pictured myself springing like a gazelle across the finish line. I didn’t want to break the bubble. I didn’t want to see the look Levi would give me again, the look that said I had no business running in the race. The look that said I didn’t belong in Normal Land.


If you’re looking for more books for 8 to 12 year-olds, check out the list of wonderful middle grade books over at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday on Greg Pattridge's blog.

7 comments:

  1. One of my favorite read! Alba is such in inspiring character. And, Levi is such a great balance for her. Loved your thoughts.

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  2. Sounds like I would love this book! Thanks for telling me about it. Loved the quote about not letting go of her hand.

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  3. I really enjoyed this book. As you note, the characters are amazing.

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  4. I missed this one when it came out. Thanks for your review and the reminder I need to find a copy and read it this spring. Such an unusual story line.

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  5. This sounds like an interesting plot. I will look for this at our library. Thanks for posting about this book for MMGM!

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  6. I also missed this one, Andrea, so thanks for the heads-up. I'm intrigued by the author's skill at creating characters. I don't know if I'll ever catch up on all the books I've missed...

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  7. I loved this book too. Great characters, great story concept. Glad to see the word being spread. Thanks for the post.

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