The Theory of Hummingbirds Reviews

School Library Journal

TheTheoryOfHummingbirds_Website“Fascinating hummingbird facts flit throughout this contemporary realistic story and a glossary helps readers know more about the birds. An author’s note states that Kadarusman, like Alba, was born with talipes equinovarus. Kadarusman’s writing has a light touch, and the story will resonate with a wide audience. VERDICT Readers learn that a group of hummingbirds is called a ‘charm’—and are sure to be charmed by this heartfelt tale.”

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Kirkus Reviews

“[Alba’s] goals occur in small steps, easing her into the difference between her dream and the reality without diminishing her accomplishments. Alba’s relationship with her single mother is touching…Alba’s narration is dotted with hummingbird facts, which Kadarusman—who had a club foot herself—explains in a glossary. A quick, sweet read.”

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Manhattan Book Review

“We rated this book: [5/5 stars]…Author Michelle Kadarusman has written a gentle but powerful story of dealing with differences and problems in friendships within a coming-of-age story. The writing is lyrical, the characters believable and well-rounded, and the metaphor of Alba as a hummingbird is heartbreakingly perfect.”
—Rosi Hollinbeck

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CM Magazine

“…Like Alba, author Michelle Kadarusman experienced juvenile surgeries for clubfoot, as described in her ‘Author’s Note’, and Alba’s perspective here is delightfully authentic….

Indeed, it is these facts that will keep readers intrigued over and above the more common theme of friendship that binds this story, elevating this novel to a rich and thought-provoking read. A glossary of Alba’s Hummingbird Facts appears at the end of the book….

The total design of the book, including its various fonts and hummingbird images, is captivating.

In a couple of places, aspects of the story make for excellent critical literacy discussions. Alba’s single mother takes a shine to Alba’s medical specialist; is a personal relationship between them appropriate? And Alba constantly longs to be ‘normal’ until the ending when she decides that her bad foot ‘didn’t have to be normal, because it wasn’t normal that mattered.’ Is Alba really abnormal, or is diversity, and the way we think today about difference, the new normal? Important discussions for classrooms and beyond.

Highly Recommended.
Bev Brenna

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Quill & Quire

“…The Theory of Hummingbirds is a gentle, hopeful, and wholly innocent portrayal of a sixth-grade girl dealing with being different….

Alba uses several coping techniques to deal with her physical challenges. She is deeply invested in hummingbirds and sees them as a metaphor for her own life. ‘Hummingbirds don’t sit around moaning about their tiny feet and the fact that they can’t walk,’ she says.  Alba calls her clubfoot Cleo, viewing it with compassion and kindness rather than resentment and self-pity. Support comes from her best friend Levi, who spends recess indoors with her because of his serious asthma.

…In the mode of Jeanne Birdsall and Natalie Lloyd, Kadarusman makes some narrative choices that favour poeticism and poignancy over realism….

The negativity is fleeting and the trajectory of Alba’s journey is onward and upward….”

Read the full review on page 47 of the July/August 2017 issue of Quill & Quire

Resource Links

“Rating: G…This is a great story about doing what one can and not always comparing oneself with others. I found this a satisfying read which could stimulate some interesting discussion about limitations and friendship. The love interest of Alba’s mother which is hinted at I found unnecessary, although it does add to the happy ending.

A glossary of hummingbird facts is included as an epilogue.”

Thematic Links: Disabilities; Families; Friendship; Hummingbirds
—Mavis Holder

Read the full review in the November/December 2017 issue of Resource Links

Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a starred review) 5

Everything works out in the end, but in a way that feels natural and realistic. A glossary of hummingbird facts and an author’s note add dimension to the story. This is a sweet, gentle novel about friendship….Recommend to readers who are moving beyond early chapter books into middle-grade fiction. Also recommend White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan and Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.”
—Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA

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Winnipeg Free Press

“In this book for a middle-grade audience (eight to 12 years), the reader readily identifies with Alba’s efforts. Kadarusman also provides plenty of information on hummingbirds, which have such small feet that they only perch, never walk.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Alba is like the hummingbirds of the title. Most people would see them as delicate creatures, perhaps fragile and vulnerable. But Alba and Levi, hummingbird aficionados, know that the little birds are not always what they seem. They can be intense, even ferocious, not unlike Alba herself….

The Theory of Hummingbirds is Michelle Kadarusman’s first middle-grade novel (Her first book, Out of It (Lorimer, 2014), was written for young adults) and she’s made it reader friendly in more than just vocabulary and content. Her characters are both sensitive and gritty, as the need requires, and neither goody-goody nor reprehensible. In other words, they are real children with strengths and challenges. Because she underwent a series of surgical procedures to correct her own congenital talipes equinovarus, Michelle Kadarusman writes from experience. Hence Alba’s determination and drive for normalcy is written with authenticity and reads the same. If there’s a lesson to learn, it’s that seeing the hummingbirds and Alba and Levi and others only one way does a disservice to them and anyone. We are all far more than our greatest challenge or weakness or even strength. For that, on this day, we should all be ever thankful.”

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Children’s Books Heal

“Why I like this book: Michelle Kadarusman has crafted a richly textured story about [Alba], who has a leg that is directionally challenged. It is a powerful and captivating story about differences and abilities and ‘learning to love who you are and what you can do.’ It is emotionally honest and filled with heart.

It is important for readers to see themselves in realistic characters like [Alba]….

The author’s use of hummingbirds as a poignant metaphor to help Alba embrace her life in a meaningful way and pursue her big dream. ‘Hummingbirds don’t sit around moaning about their tiny feet and that they can’t walk,’ she says. Like [Alba], the author was born with talipes equinovarus (CTEV), more commonly called club foot.

The plot is paced well with the perfect amount of tension to keep readers intrigued, engaged and guessing.  This is an excellent book for any school library.”

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Booktime

“A beautiful lesson in Michelle Kadarusman’s The Theory of Hummingbirds…

Alba and Levi seem like great characters and true friends – brought together by their differences from their classmates, but friends because of their similarities including their love of all things hummingbirds, which we learn a lot about in this book.

I particularly love the lesson – and the way it’s told – about understanding your differences, embracing them and doing what you can to make life as you want it.”

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Amy Shaw

“[5/5 stars]…It was easy to fall in league with these two characters, as different and challenged as they each were as the story unfolds. Alba was remarkable for her perseverance and her drive, and Levi equally solid in his knowledge and conviction that space-time continuum and scientific discovery need not be left to the adults and titled scientists. This is a great book to share with students in discussion of friendship, resilience, perseverance, and goal-setting.”

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Sarah Pickles

“[4/5 stars] A story about best friends, hummingbirds and wormholes makes for a great story….Above all I love the message of this story, ‘Love who you are and LOVE what you can do.’”

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Vicki Ziegler

“[4 1/2 stars]…

I am giving this book as a gift to an eager middle grade reader, but I decided to read it myself before passing it along. I’m so glad I did. Michelle Kadarusman draws on personal experience to craft well a story about learning to see past the surfaces of people and situations to go deeper and achieve understanding and empathy….These messages and the intertwined insights into hummingbirds – beautiful, resilient, fiesty, all in a tiny, exquisite package – are all conveyed with a light but resonant touch.”

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Kathie M.

“This was a good read, and I actually learned a lot about hummingbirds. The topic is not often covered in middle grade literature, and the author had surgery to repair a clubfoot in elementary school, so I appreciate the perspective she shares. The book is not long, so it’s appealing to a wide variety of readers.”

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