The Theory of Hummingbirds by Michelle Kadarusman

The Theory of Hummingbirds

Michelle Kadarusman, Author

Pajama Press, Fiction, Oct. 16, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes: Club Foot, Differences, Abilities, Self-Acceptance, Dreams, Friendship

Publisher Synopsis: “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.

Why I like this book:

Michelle Kadarusman has crafted a richly textured story about Ada, 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 Ada. You don’t feel sorry for Ada because of her determination and resilience.  She is believable and won’t let anyone put limitations on her. I love how she names her club foot “Cleo,” out of kindness. Her best friend Levi spends recess indoors with her because of his asthma. His obsession with time travel and wormholes provides a lot of comic relief.

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 Ada, 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.

**I won on Rosi Hollinbeck’s wonderful website The Write Stuff. Check if out. She always has gifts and tips for her writer friends.

Greg Pattridge is the permanent host for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

22 thoughts on “The Theory of Hummingbirds by Michelle Kadarusman

  1. I remember the past reviews on this one but never added it to my list. Your insightful thoughts put it there before I forget again. It goes well with my review today of INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS. I’m looking forward to making comparisons.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the hummingbird metaphor, and that she works so hard to overcome her challenges with humor and without hating her foot! Sounds like a winner, thank you for the recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL — you caught me! When I was writing the review many weeks ago, I accidentally hit the “publish” button instead of update and it appeared for a few minutes until I could take it down. It was basically the synopsis.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This book has been talked about quite a bit. It sounds like a nice story about someone who deals with her difficulties. Clubfoot isn’t like it used to be but still could make a child feel different enough to be affected. I love that she named her foot. Sounds like an enjoyable read.


  4. Thank you for featuring this book, Patricia. I enjoy reading middle grade literature about children who are dealing with their physical and emotional difficulties in positive ways. I adore the whimsical cover art!


  5. This sounds like a good one. I like where they say, “Hummingbirds and angels don’t need two good feet. They have wings.” That is so true, (I wrote a PB manuscript about hummingbirds and learned a lot about them) they can’t really hop or walk, but they sure can fly. Thanks for the review of this book.


  6. Aaaaah this book sounds so sweet. I absolutely love the title and, as always, the book deals with themes that should be talked about but are sometimes uncommon in popular MG. Thank you so much for the review, and happy Tuesday!


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