30th Anniversary Re-Launch for Hummer, Past Nominee for the Mark Twain Award and Golden Sowers Award!
An uplifting coming-of-age story of grit, perseverance, and self-discovery for a young girl whose difficult home life is changed forever by a horse.
Twelve-year-old Hummer is a filthy pigpen and her mother is crazy—at least that’s what the troubled girl’s classmates tell her. With her mother’s mental health declining, their house filled with garbage, and her father living in their barn, the young girl’s discovery of an escaped Arabian horse makes her believe the mare will take all of her troubles away. In this thirtieth anniversary second edition of Hummer, revised and complete with a fresh new cover and first-time ever pencil illustrations, author Linda Gruenberg brings the inspiring story of personal triumph and self-discovery to a new audience of middle-grade readers.
Hummer is withdrawn and scrawny, but put her on a horse and she’s amazing. The young girl finds solace caring for their farm’s animals, and she dreams of a time when her mentally ill mother will do the things she used to do like bathe, leave her rocking chair and the house, or watch Hummer ride her old asthmatic horse, Mike.
“‘Why don’t you see if your ma wants to come with us,’ Virgil said to Hummer as she climbed in the truck. Hummer stared out the window, gritting her teeth. She wanted to tell her dad how her ma was getting worse, but somehow the words just wouldn’t come out.”
At school, Hummer feels ashamed and defensive about her mother’s unusual behavior and the conditions in their home. Mocked by her classmates, she makes up lies to assuage her confused emotions, telling them that her mother takes her shopping every weekend for new clothes and that her family is moving to France. Things change for Hummer one stormy night when, lying in bed, the girl hears a faraway neighing. As she goes out in the dark night to investigate, Hummer comes across the most beautiful Arabian horse she’s ever seen.
She learns from her father that Fox, as she’s taken to calling the horse, is owned by a cross and ill-natured neighbor, old man Riley. But Riley is smart enough to see the girl's special kinship with his mare and her incredible ability to ride and master the large horse. An agreement is made and Hummer is permitted to ride Fox for Riley, who is unable to any longer, and the old man finds contentment in helping the girl train his horse.
“‘There she is now,’ Riley said. ‘Little scrawny runt of a thing, but by golly, she rides my horse like she was born to it.’ He winked at Hummer. “She don’t seem so small when she gets on that horse. She ain’t no ordinary kid.’”
As the unlikely friends work together to prepare for an upcoming trail ride competition, Hummer navigates her mother’s illness and her father’s absence from their house, while fearing that she will be removed from her home by protective services. As Riley increasingly becomes a gruff but kind advocate for the girl, and the two work diligently with Fox the entire summer, Hummer learns much from the man about riding a horse, but in the process learns even more about herself.
Author and artist Linda Gruenberg masterfully weaves a timeless and inspiring story of self-discovery, determination, and courage in the face of difficult circumstances. Young readers will be fascinated with the in-depth details about horses and the interplay of the well-defined characters. With a new cover illustration by the author herself, the fresh look for this must-read book will connect with a new readership of middle-graders, those experiencing inner challenges, and anyone looking for an uplifting story of triumph over adversity.
The thirtieth anniversary second edition of Hummer is available November 26th, 2021, wherever books are sold.
First edition published 1990 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
German translation, 1991. Jennifers Traum.
Swedish translation, 1992. Nynna.
Norwegian translation, 1992. Nynna.
Nominated for the Golden Sowers award in Nebraska and the Mark Twain award in Missouri, 1992.