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A beautifully drawn comic book inspired by Japanese manga and Indigenous art and legend
This powerful story about a brave hummingbird shares a message of environmental stewardship
Hummingbirds have long been a symbol of wisdom and courage. In this breathtaking book, a hummingbird makes a valiant effort to put out a raging fire that threatens her forest home. She makes many trips over the burning woodland because her tiny beak can only hold one drop of water at a time. Her efforts show the other creatures in the forest that doing something—anything—is better than doing nothing at all. Will they join her in her fight to save their home?
The hummingbird parable, which originates with the Quechuan people of South America, has become a talisman for environmentalists and activists worldwide committed to making meaningful change. This retelling, enlivened by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’ fabulous Haida-Manga illustrations, is suitable for all ages of would-be activists. Although environmental responsibility often seems like an overwhelming task, The Flight of the Hummingbird shows how easy it is to start and how great the effect could be if everyone just did what they could.
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About the Author
Wangari Muta Maathai was born in Nyeri, Kenya, in 1940, the daughter of farmers in the highlands of Mount Kenya. She is the founder of the Green Belt Movement, which, through networks of rural women, has planted over thirty million trees across Kenya since 1977. In 1986 the Movement established a Pan African Green Belt Network, which has taught people from other African countries the Green Belt Movement’s approach to environmental conservation and community building. Several African countries have since started similar successful initiatives. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the head of state and the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He was born on July 6, 1935, to a farming family in a small hamlet in Taktser, northeastern Tibet. At the age of two, in accordance with Tibetan tradition, he was recognized as the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, and he also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems. He lives in Dharamsala, India.
Read an Excerpt
From The Flight of the Hummingbird
Here is the story of the great forest that caught on fire. The terrible fire raged and burned.
All of the animals were afraid and fled from their homes. The elephant and the tiger, the beaver and the bear all ran, and above them the birds flew in a panic. They huddled at the edge of the forest and watched. All of the creatures gathered, except one.
Only Dukdukdiya, the little hummingbird, would not abandon the forest. Dukdukdiya flew quickly to the stream. She picked up a single drop of water in her beak.
Dukdukdiya flew back and dropped the water on the raging fire.
Again she flew to the stream and brought back another drop and continuedback and forth, back and forth.
The other animals watched Dukdukdiya's tiny body fly against the enormous fire, and they were frightened. They called out to the little hummingbird, warning her of the dangers of the smoke and the heat.
"What can I do?" sobbed the rabbit. "This fire is much too hot."
"There is too much smoke!" howled the wolf.
"My wings will burn! My beak is too small!" cried the owl.
But the little hummingbird continued. She flew back and forth, picking up more water and dropping it, bead by bead, onto the burning forest.
Finally, the big bear said, "Little Dukdukdiya, what are you doing?"
Without stopping, Dukdukdiya looked down at all of the animals. She said, "I am doing what I can."
Table of ContentsThe Hummingbird by Wangari Maathai
The Story of the Hummingbird
Afterword: The Environment and Personal Responsibility by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
About Wangari Maathai
About His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Artist's Statement by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
The Origins of the Hummingbird Story