The Theory of Hummingbirds

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The Theory of Hummingbirds

By Michelle Kadarusman
Juvenile Fiction Ages 8-12
ISBN: 978-1-77278-027-7 (HC) / 978-1-77278-035-2 (PB)
List Price: $17.95 (HC) / $11.95 (PB)
Hardcover with dust jacket / Paperback with French flaps
Trim size: 13.97 x 19.05 cm / 5.5 x 7.5 inches
Pages: 160

Canadian Publication Date: September 25, 2017
U.S. Publication Date: October 16, 2017

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

A moving novel for middle-grade readers that is not about overcoming disability, but rather becoming one’s truest self

“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.

From author Michelle Kadarusman

Awards and Honours:
2019 MYRCA Sundogs Award nominee
2018 SYRCA Diamond Willow finalist
2018 CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection

Reviews:
“Fascinating hummingbird facts flit throughout this contemporary realistic story and a glossary helps readers know more about the birds….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.”—School Library Journal

“[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.”—Kirkus Reviews

“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.”—Manhattan Book Review

“Alba’s perspective here is delightfully authentic….Indeed, it is [the hummingbird 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….In a couple of places, aspects of the story make for excellent critical literacy discussions….Highly Recommended.”—CM Magazine

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.”—Quill & Quire

“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.”—Resource Links

“Michelle Kadarusman skilfully uses emotional honesty to capture the turmoil of not fitting in and the hard journey to acceptance in terms children can easily understand….Alba’s endearing story is sure to change readers…”—Canadian Children’s Book News

Rating: 5…A glossary of hummingbird facts and an author’s note add dimension to the story. This is a sweet, gentle novel about friendship.”—Youth Services Book Review

“Michelle Kadarusman uses her own personal experience to weave a beautiful story about change, friendship, acceptance, and finding your place in the world. The characters develop naturally throughout the story and the emotions are described in a way that helps the reader relate to the book and stay engaged and absorbed in the story. The Theory of Hummingbirds would be great for any student in upper elementary, middle school and high school.”—Children’s Books & Media Reviews, Brigham Young University

“In this book for a middle-grade audience (eight to 12 years), the reader readily identifies with Alba’s efforts.”—Winnipeg Free Press

The Theory of Hummingbirds is Michelle Kadarusman’s first middle-grade novel 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.”—CanLit for LittleCanadians

“[A] powerful and captivating story about differences and abilities…emotionally honest and filled with heart.”—Children’s Books Heal

“Alba and Levi seem like great characters and true friends – brought together by their differences from their classmates…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.”—Booktime

“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.”—Amy Shaw, Goodreads

“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.’”—Sarah Pickles, Goodreads

“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….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.”—Vicki Ziegler, Goodreads

“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.”—Kathie M., NetGalley