Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Theory of Hummingbirds

Pajama Press 2017. 160 pages
First published: 2017
ISBN: 9781772780277 (hardcover)
9781772780352 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

character

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Sixth grader Alba has a clubfoot she calls ‘Cleo’ and cannot wait for her cast to come off so she can run the cross-country race at school. Her best friend, Levi, has severe asthma, and the two of them often sit out recesses, helping at the library or in the office. Obsessed with A Brief History of Time and The Theory of Everything, Levi is sure that the librarian disappears into a wormhole at lunch hour. The inseparable friends soon come to heads when Alba loses faith in his high-minded theories and Levi doubts her ability to run.

Told in the first-person voice of Alba, the writing is crisp, clever and full of charm. Alba is a well-developed character, both compassionate and strong. Her physical challenges never hold her back, much like the hummingbirds that she and Levi love to study. They “don’t sit around moaning about their tiny feet and the fact that they can’t walk.” She faces her difficulties head on, working hard at physical therapy and finally accepting that running a race is too ambitious, that walking part of it is triumph enough.

Alba’s voice is philosophical and real; it will appeal to young people who have ever felt different. “The idea of being NORMAL hovered ahead of me like a glittering, shiny new world – a place that I had never been allowed into.” This is essentially a story about difference and overcoming personal difficulty; a story in which friendship and determination prevail.

  •  

    Discuss what you know about hummingbirds. How are they unique?

  •  

    In this story, neither main character gets what they want but they are still happy. Write about such a time in your life.

  •  

    Animals are often symbols that represent particular traits of character or movement (graceful as a gazelle). Brainstorm animals and their symbolic meanings, and deepen your knowledge through research. Choose one animal and present your findings to your classmates.

  •  

    Kadarusman used her experience as the foundation for building a story with a strong message. Consider your own experiences and choose one to tell a compelling, evocative story that conveys a significant, useful message to others.

  •  

    Discuss what you know about hummingbirds. How are they unique?

  •  

    From this knowledge, what might the theory of the hummingbird be?

  •  

    Create a T-chart to show how Alba and Levi are both ordinary and out of the ordinary.

  •  

    Create a mind map about the story. Include Alba’s and Levi’s challenges and successes.

  •  

    Discuss what makes people challenge themselves to go beyond their limits. Write a short text in your reader-writer’s notebook showing how you have strongly challenged yourself.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Science and Technology