Natalie Lloyd, Author
Scholastic, Fiction, Aug. 2, 2022
A Schneider Family Book Award Honor Book
Suitable for ages: 8-12
Themes: Osteogenesis imperfecta, Differently abled, Birding, Magic, Friendship
Twelve-year-old homeschooled Olive is tired of being seen as “fragile” just because she has osteogenesis imperfecta (otherwise known as brittle bone disease), so she’s thrilled when she finally convinces her over protective parents to let her attend Macklemore Middle School, a traditional school …until a disastrous first day dashers her hopes of ever fitting in or making the friends she’s always longed for.
Then Olive hears whispers about a magical, wish-granting hummingbird that supposedly lives near her town, Wildwood, Tennessee. It will be the solution to all her problems! If she can find the bird, the creature will make her most desperate, secret wish come true.
When it becomes clear that she can’t solve the mystery on her own, Olive teams up with some unlikely allies who help her learn the truth about the bird and solve its many riddles. And on the way, she just might learn that our fragile places lead us to the most wonderful magic of all.
From the bestselling author of A Snicker of Magic comes a heartfelt story about a girl who — armed with her trusty, snazzy wheelchair — refuses to let her brittle bone disease stand in the way of adventure.
What I love about Hummingbird:
Simply breathtaking! Natalie Lloyd’s Hummingbird is her most important novel to date. Her enchanting storytelling and poetic literary style sets her a part from from other authors. Olive’s first-person narration is infused with her deepest thoughts and feelings, which are exquisitely written in free verse throughout the story. Hummingbird will touch your heart and soul.
I wish for
bones of steel.
Bones that don’t break
when they dance,
or slide in the snow.
Maybe it’s selfish,
to hope for that.
Hummingbird is a labor of love for Lloyd, as she draws upon her own experience with osteogenesis imperfecta to create her main character, Olive. In doing so, Lloyd shows her own source of courage as she pours her heart into brave, adventurous and kind-hearted Olive, who wants to attend school to prove that there is more to her than being “fragile.” She also wants to make best friends, perform in a play and attend a sleepover.
I loved Olive’s eccentric extended family who are goodhearted and unforgettable. Olive’s parents are divorced. She has a very close relationship with her overprotective mother, who has remarried the middle school coach. He has a son, Hatch, who’s Olive’s age. They live in a cottage in Piney Woods on the outskirts of Wildwood. Her father, Jupiter, lives forty-five feet from the back door in a yurt. He loves yoga and does his own thing. Grandpa Goad, the family birder, and Uncle Dash live in a little house next door. And there is Felix, a pelican who lives outside Olive’s window, who snacks on frozen fish sticks. Olive’s family dance, sing and cook together. But most important, they love and support Olive as she begins to spread her wings. There are many other memorable characters to love, especially her new best friends Grace, Ransom and Dylan. And there is the “mountain ballerina,” Nester Tuberose.
The magical realism is well-developed and enhances the plot, which is filled with wonder, mystery and hope. When magical feathers begin to fall on the town for the first time in years and a blue moon is due to rise on May Day, it is a signal of the return of the magical hummingbird. According to the legend, the hummingbird will grant a wish that is pure and brave and leave a gold speck on the person’s nose. Olive knows her wish and is determined to find the bird. So does the entire town and her stepbrother, Hatch. The ending is absolutely magnificent. Olive comes to some very important insights about herself.
Natalie Lloyd writes this story with a wealth of personal knowledge on the subject. Make sure you read her Author’s Note at the end as it is so inspiring for readers with brittle bones or any chronic condition. This is my favorite Lloyd book and I highly recommend it to readers.
Natalie Lloyd is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels including A Snicker of Magic, The Key to Extraordinary Over the Moon, and The Problim Children series. Lloyd lives in Tennessee with her husband, Justin and their dogs. Visit Lloyd at her website.
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*Reviewed from a purchased copy.