Thursday, July 14, 2022

A Heroic Hummingbird

Picture Book: The Little Hummingbird

Author/ Illustrator: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

Summary: Based on an indigenous story, this book begins with a group of forest animals. When “the great fire” starts, animals huddle at the edge of a forest. 

They wonder what they can do, but they are afraid and feel helpless. As the forest burns, Little Hummingbird flies between the stream and the forest, carrying one drop of water per trip and dropping it onto the ferocious blaze. 

The other animals watch in amazement and offer excuses. Eventually, Big Bird asks Little Hummingbird, what she is doing. She responds, “I’m doing everything I can.”   
Hanna’s Comments: This very short book offers a straightforward message and lots to explore! Primarily there is the message of taking responsibility for what is happening in your world by doing the best you can. How do you talk to children and adults about taking responsibility? By helping them identify and emulate the heroes in pop culture and the more elusive heroes in their midst. Then find connections between ALL those heroes and your audience. Next make connections to heroes in Bible stories. Below I list a few standouts in categories I call traditional and nontraditional biblical heroes. Nontraditional biblical heroes, like the Little Hummingbird, are doing small acts, often over a long period of time. Sometimes these nontraditional are noticed and honored, but often they are not. Look at the biblical stories of the unnamed, the less dramatic acts, the people on the margins that Jesus so clearly saw. My favorite Bible hero is the woman who touches Jesus' hem. She is quiet in her courage, but nevertheless her courage is very big. Already shunned, she risks even more by entering the crowd and touching the man of the moment. She was seen and healed by Jesus because of her faith, but the healing would have never happened had she not been courageous!  

Notice that the Little Hummingbird is a female. This is a great chance for your females to hear a female hero story in this book and in scripture. Don't use the word "heroine." It implies a weaker, softer sort of hero. The word hero is big enough for all genders!


There are 2 enlightening Afterwards in this book. The first is by the author who explores the amazing abilities of hummingbirds. He says they often represent beauty, agility, and hope in traditional stories throughout the Western hemisphere. The 2nd Afterward is by Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, who taught southern Africa and later the world, that planting one tree at a time until you’ve planted millions can make a huge difference in land damaged by chronic abuse! I have 2 books about her posted at PBT. Click HERE   

and HERE TOO! There are many picture books about this great hero!

Original Publisher: Greystone Books, 2010

Age Appropriateness: 5 and up

Formats other than Book: Tablet

Scripture Connections: Any scripture about heroes in the traditional sense (David in the Goliath story - 1 Samuel 17) and nontraditional heroes who made a difference with small gestures (the woman who touched Jesus' hem - Luke 8:43-48 & the boy who shared his food - John: 6:5-14) and heroes with long term commitment (Ruth's entire story & Priscilla and Aquilla - in Romans 16:3 Paul calls them his co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus who “risked their necks”).   

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of tweens or teens who you hope will become passionate about a social justice issue. Make connections to other heroes as described above. You may choose to tell this story as a parable. Then have each choose an animal and offer a plausible excuse or whine of resignation. Make connections to people who give excuses and don’t act. Tell stories of local heroes and heroes in your church family. Allow this story to motivate them to make specific plans to act responsibly and "do all they can" regarding the issue. Compel but also inspire! 

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