cover image Hummingbird


Natalie Lloyd. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-3386-5458-5

Lloyd (Over the Moon) puts character development center stage as a sixth grader who uses a wheelchair enters the spotlight thanks to a school play and small-town magic. After years of being homeschooled due to her osteogenesis imperfecta, 11-year-old birder Olive Martin enrolls in a Tennessee middle school to meet her “future BFF” and prove that she’s “more/ than bones and wheels/ and breakable parts.” Learning of her brittle bones, classmates initially treat Olive “like a stick of dynamite.” When she subsequently hears about a rare hummingbird that grants wishes to seekers who decipher its riddle, an uncomfortable new desire surfaces: “bones like steel.” Teaming up with entrepreneurial classmate Grace Cho, Olive races to crack the riddle while wrestling with thorny self-image questions—soon realizing that other classmates also have “a wish tucked deep in [their] soul.” Olive’s sparkly personality roars to life through assured first-person narration, metaphors rooted in the natural world, and simple yet piercing free verse that distills her self-revelations. An author’s note acknowledges the diversity of disability experiences (“as unique as that individual’s heart or fingerprints”) and connects Lloyd’s lived experiences to Olive’s candid emotional arc. Protagonists cue as white; secondary characters represent multiple skin tones, ethnicities, and conditions. Ages 8–12. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary. (Aug.)