Review

Flight of the Hummingbird

Inspiration

Flight of the Hummingbird

Product details

Product name: Flight of the Hummingbird

Reviewer: Kate Arneman

Author: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Price: $22.95

G Rating:

3

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is an artist who belongs to the Haida nation, an indigenous North American commmunity. In this slim volume, he tells a parable in words, accompanied by cartoon-like images influenced by traditional Haida art.

A fierce and powerful fire rages through a forest and the animals who live there are paralysed by fear, except for a tiny hummingbird who, over and over, carries a single drop of water in her beak from the stream to drop on the fire.

When asked what she is doing, she answers, "I'm doing what I can."

This story is inspired by one told by the Quechan people of modern-day Ecuador, but the hummingbird features in stories of indigenous peoples throughout the Americas, as a symbol of optimism, wisdom and the celebration of life.

The symbolism of the hummingbird's actions in the parable is explored in an introductory essay by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. Her own 'drop of water' was seven trees that she planted in Kenya thirty years ago.

Today, the Green Belt Movement that Maathai founded has been responsible for the planting of 30 million trees in Kenya and many more in other African countries.

The idea that we all carry a responsibility to do what we can to prevent further damage to our planet is the subject of an afterword on "Universal Responsibility" written by the Dalai Lama.

Flight of the Hummingbird would make a thoughtful gift for someone interested in the spiritual and ethical dimensions of being green, and the possibility of preserving hope in the face of sobering environmental challenges.

Printed on paper that does not contain materials from trees of old-growth forests.

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