The Hummingbird's Gift


32 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-920534-99-6
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Stefan Czernecki
Reviewed by Lisa Arsenault

Lisa Arsenault is an elementary-school teacher in Ajax, Ontario.


In a Mexican village named “the Place of the Hummingbirds,” a severe
drought causes all the crops to wither, including the flowers that
produce the hummingbirds’ nectar. A local Indian farmer and his wife
and children find a way to help the birds. They mold tiny flower-shaped
pots out of clay and water, paint them in bright flower colors, and fill
them with a mixture of sugar and water to simulate nectar. The birds now
have something to eat, but the people begin to feel the pinch of hunger.
The birds gather piles of straw and begin to weave the straw into tiny
figures. Following their example, the farmer’s family weave little
skeletons, dancers, musicians, and other shapes. By selling the figures
at the Day of the Dead festival, they earn enough money to support
themselves for the rest of the year.

This is a lovely story of reciprocity and selflessness. The selling of
the straw figures at the Day of the Dead festival introduces some
fascinating cultural lore pertaining to Mexican ancestor worship. An
author’s note provides further information on this festival and the
village. Particularly noteworthy are the illustrations and photographs.
The illustrations, rendered in bright primary colors, create a sense of
the sun beating down. Each page also has a beautiful flower border. The
photographs are of straw weavings made by contemporary Mexican Indians.
Highly recommended.


Czernecki, Stefan, and Timothy Rhodes., “The Hummingbird's Gift,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024,