Sunday, August 14, 2022


Lloyd, Natalie. Hummingbird. 
August 2nd 2022 by Scholastic Press 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Olive Miracle Martin wants nothing more than to attend Macklemore Middle School in her hometown of Wildwood, Tennessee. Because she was born with osteogenesis imperfecta (otherwise known as brittle bone disease), she's been homeschooled by her mother. Her father, Jupiter, is a free spirited guy who comes and goes, and her stepfather works at the middle school. Olive wants to experience the same kind of life that other children do, and wants to find a best friend like Anne of Green Gables or The Babysitter's Club. Her mother insists that she use a wheelchair to prevent falls, and wants Olive's stepbrother, Hatch, to watch out for her. She is a bit disappointed that she can't join some kids she meets for lunch on the first day; they eat in the library and her aide, Ms. Pigeon, takes her instead to "the Madelines", whom she thinks are sweet girls. Olive finds them a bit condescending and mean, and would rather eat with Grace, who has a variety of businesses that she runs from school. Olive decides that she will try out for the school play, since Grace is doing set design, and it's a good chance to try something new. There are other exciting things going on in town; for the first time in a number of years, magical feathers are falling on the town, which presage the coming of the hummingbird. This hummingbird will bestow one wish on a person of its choosing. Olive is determined to find where the bird will appear so that she can make a wish. Others, including Hatch, have the same idea, and Olive puts together a BlumeBirds group to do some investigating. The kids interview older people in the town and try to make the best plan. The play, a story about the life of Emily Dickinson, goes fairly well, and Olive is glad to get a speaking role. Unfortunately, she suffers a broken leg, which complicates many things. Will she be able to continue to attend public school and participate in the play, and which of her new friends will have a wish granted by the hummingbird?
Strengths: Since the author also has OI, there are lots of good details about what this condition entails. For example, Olive can walk, but can be dangerous in a school with lots of careening children. The adults who cross Olive's paths are all very interesting; I wish more middle grade books had better developed adult characters, since they are frequently so important in tweens' lives. Her mother is overprotective, her father is involved but has his own issues, and the teachers (especially a fun librarian!) are helpful as well. It wsa good to see that Olive was able to make some friends, although we do see how some classmates don't understand her reality. The magical realism was well developed, and was rather reminiscent of A Snicker of Magic. The Southern setting included a fair amount of church going, which is not represented all that well in middle grade literature. 
Weaknesses: I bought both A Snicker of Magic and The Key to Extraordinary, but they have not circulated well. It did seem a bit odd that Olive was so fond of Judy Blume's Blubber (1974), but perhaps this was a childhood favorite of Lloyd's. 
What I really think: I really enjoyed reading about how Olive met her challenges with her physical limitations, and Lloyd's own experiences with OI definitely give this a real immediacy. I wish that this had been a realistic story, but understand that Lloyd writes mainly magical realism. She certainly has a lot of fans of her lyrical, fantastical novels set in the South. 

Ms. Yingling

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