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Hummingbird Hardcover – May 27, 2008

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–7—Twelve-year-old March Anne expects this summer to be like all others—spending time with her girlfriends, helping on the family's Georgia watermelon farm, and learning from her grandma, who has been raising March Anne and her brother since their mother died nine years ago. But in July, the girl's world is turned upside down when Grenna suffers a heart attack and is bedridden. March Anne valiantly tries to cook the dinners, but her misadventures only serve to highlight the void that her grandmother's absence will leave. Things gradually settle down, and March Anne regales Grenna with stories about school, especially the antics of three previously irritating boys. When Grenna insists that a hummingbird has stayed for the winter, March Anne assumes her grandmother is "wonky," but the creature soon makes itself known, remaining nearby until the February day when Grenna passes on. Afterward, March Anne must come to terms with her grief not only for her grandmother, but also for her mother. Her friends are there to help, and her family draws closer as her father opens up about his repressed heartache over his wife. While the vocabulary is poetic, the Southern idioms and clichés are exaggerated, and March Anne's first-person narration never entirely engages readers. The tone is somewhat saccharine and preachy, and the themes are presented with a heavy hand. An additional novel about friendship and loss.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
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From Booklist

Twelve-year-old March Anne Tanner’s world is full of the rich colors and sweet smells of her family’s Georgia watermelon farm. But her idyllic life is disrupted when Grenna, her grandmother and main caretaker, suffers a debilitating heart attack. In the year that follows, March Anne comes to realize that she will eventually loose Grenna, and she finally faces the hole in her life left by her mother’s death, when March Anne was very young. Angle’s story and prose are clean, lyrical, and so quaint that they sometimes feel incongruous with the contemporary setting. An overly long lead-up to what the titular hummingbird represents may deter readers not immediately taken by the meandering but heartfelt story. Still, those itching for a lushly drawn, gentle coming-of-age tale to wile away summer days will take March Anne and her story to heart. Grades 4-6. --Heather Booth
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 910L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); First Edition edition (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374333769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374333768
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,364,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sue Diehl on May 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wonderful read for the pre-adolescent about the acceptance of self and one's place in the cycle of life. Twelve-year-old March Anne Tanner's life on a watermelon and pumpkin farm in rural Georgia is filled with friends, school projects, chores and farm animals, along with a true sense of family. When her beloved maternal grandmother, Grenna, who has raised her following the death of her mother at age three, suffers a heart attack with irreparable damage, March Anne must come to terms with the delayed response to grief for her own mother as well as the impending loss of her grandmother. This beautifully woven story of seasons, family life, and friendships makes this a real page-turner, for the reader quickly comes to care for the wonderfully-developed characters from the protagonist to the hummingbird named Zipp. As a former middle-school librarian, I heartily recommend that every library serving the preteen population have Hummingbird in its collection. I look forward to future contributions by this exciting new author of children's and young adult literature.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nena Atkins on July 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Twelve-year-old March Anne Tanner has grown up on a farm in Jubilee, Georgia, keenly attuned to nature. Through her eyes we experience the simple majesty of her seasonal life from summertime katydids to a unique gift of a wintertime hummingbird named Zipp. March Anne's life has always been predictable; but as she grows and feels the haunting call of the lonesome train whistle, things are beginning to change. Her grandmother Grenna, the only mother she and her brother have ever known, suffers a debilitating heart attack, and now she must face an inevitable loss. Throughout the summer and winter season, March Anne and her friends Meg and Laverne, otherwise known as the Pseudonymphs, are all edging towards adolescence and are seeking a sense of identity as their lives begin to unfold before them. However, in the midst of turmoil and confusion, March Anne finally heeds the mysterious call of the train whistle and is led to a deeply touching and heartfelt discovery. This book offers both laughter and tears, and through March Anne's journey, the reader experiences a sweet and tender view of life, loss, and grace. A must read for adolescents and adults alike!
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Format: Hardcover
I agree with the reviewer that "the first-person narration never entirely engages readers," however, I think that it is sometimes difficult to be fully drawn in to a child's first-person narrative. Perhaps that is why I felt a lack of wholeness to this book. I wondered from time to time what the book was about. Not being a writing expert, I don't know why I felt that way, but I did think part of the reason was something about the first-person narration.

I disagree entirely with the opinion that "the Southern idioms and cliches are exaggerated." I live and grew up in suburban Atlanta which isn't really like the South compared to the rest of Georgia and I didn't think any of the expressions seemed out of place. In response to the reviewer's criticism of the idioms and cliches I can honestly say, "Huhnuh?" (That isn't a misspelling - it's a little Southern humor for y'all.)

I thought the story was very creative and the writing was beautifully descriptive. I had a perfect picture of March Anne's house, farm, and town in my mind.

I think this is a good book for school-age children and I would recommend it to teachers for use on a required reading list.
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Format: Hardcover
This touching-but-never-maudlin tale of a young girl's arrival at coping is phenomenal, and really, astonishing, considering it is a first book. Though the main theme IS how the pre-adolescent copes with loss, it is a cheerful, encouraging, uplifting book, with other themes as well: friendship, family ties, honoring our elders, understanding shortcomings, just to name a few. I hope this author continues to write; I put this one up there with THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE, TO COME AND GO LIKE MAGIC, and COUNTDOWN. Tween angst is dealt with in this one, but like the others I mention, NOT in a pessimistic way. A great read!
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