July 30 – International Day of Friendship

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About the Holiday

First established in 2011 by the United Nations General Assembly, the International Day of Friendship asserts the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures, and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. The UN resolution places particular emphasis on involving young people in community activities that include different cultures and promote respect for individual diversity. On this day UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urges everyone, especially young people who will be our future leaders, “to resolve to cherish and cultivate as many warm relationships as possible, enriching our own lives and enhancing the future.”

The day is celebrated with special initiatives, events, and activities that promote dialogue, education, understanding, and cooperation.

Hector and Hummingbird

By Nicholas John Frith

 

Deep in the mountains of Peru Hector and Hummingbird have forged an unbreakable friendship. “Mostly.” Hummingbird has lots of energy and loves to hover around his best bear pal. Which is ok, except sometimes Hector would just like a little quiet time, and Hummingbird won’t stop talking: “Hey, Hector! Is that a custard apple? I love custard apples! I’m going to eat this one! Oh, no! I’m going to eat that one! Shall I eat your one! Hector? Hec-torrr!” Sometimes a simple alone-time scratch would be just perfect, but Hummingbird copies him on a tree nearby: “Hey, Hector! Are you scratching? I’m going to scratch too!…” And nap time? Forget it! Hummingbird always keeps Hector awake with some story. It’s enough to make Hector cross with Hummingbird!

One day Hector can’t take it anymore—“‘Arrgh!!’” he roars. “‘Leave me alone!’”—and he takes off into the forest to find some peace. Hector’s outburst comes as a surprise to Hummingbird. He needs to find out what’s wrong, so he follows Hector into the woods, his constant hum filling the air. “‘Stop following me!’” Hector says. And Hummingbird complies—mostly. From behind leaves and tree trunks Hummingbird spies on his friend.

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Image copyright Nicholas John Frith, courtesy of zoetucker.co.uk

As Hector delves deeper and deeper into the woods, he feels an unfamiliar excitement and also a bit of trepidation. Perhaps he’s just hungry, Hector thinks. He picks a custard apple to quell the gnawing in his stomach. The fruit tastes delicious, but Hector also feels funny eating alone. He imagines how much Hummingbird would enjoy the apple too.

The scratchiest tree Hector has ever seen beckons to him, and he settles in for a nice, quiet scratch. But again he experiences that twinge of loneliness. As the forest becomes dark, Hector finds a branch to snooze on. The night air is full of strange noises, and Hector is a little scared. “‘I wish Hummingbird were here,’” sniffs Hector. “‘He could tell me a story.’”

That’s all Hummingbird needs to hear. “A story? Yay! You should have said! I love telling stories! Once upon a time…” This time Hector doesn’t roar or run away. He exclaims, “‘Hummingbird! You’re here! I missed you!’” Hummingbird admits that he missed Hector too, and that he was there all the time. “Here all along?” says a surprised Hector. “I thought I told you not to follow me!”

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Image copyright Nicholas John Frith, courtesy of zoetucker.co.uk

“But why?” Hummingbird asks. This time Hector doesn’t keep his thoughts inside. “‘Because you never stop talking!’” he answers. “‘And you’re always copying me!” Hummingbird has ready reasons. He’s only being friendly, he explains. And he loves Hector’s ideas. “‘Oh,’” says Hector. “‘Really?’” Then Hector has a brain storm. He asks Hummingbird if he can copy his being really, really quiet. “Absolutely!” Hummingbird says. And he does—in his Hummingbird sort of way, which sounds like this: “Hey, Hector? This is fun, isn’t it? We’re being really, really quiet, aren’t we? I love being quiet, don’t you? Hector? Hec-torrr?”

Nicholas John Frith humorously exposes the niggling burrs of true friendship with his endearing and inspired pairing of a quiet bear and an energetic hummingbird. While best friends love to spend time together, have lots in common, and share a history, they also share moments of frustration, misunderstanding, and vexation. Through Hector and Hummingbird, Frith reveals what happens when communication breaks down and resentments build up. Readers will see that true friendship consists of both honest dialogue and accepting people for who they are.

Frith’s jungle environment, rendered in a palate of vintage aqua, pink, green, brown, and black on a white background gives the story a fresh, bold appeal while highlighting the emotional responses of the characters to maximum effect. As day turns to night, Hector—having gone off in a huff—realizes that he misses his friend and moreover misses the very things that annoyed him about Hummingbird. His expressions of sadness and loneliness, delight at seeing Hummingbird again, and then confusion as to why Hummingbird is there in the first place can lead kids into an understanding that even the best of friends have differences.

Hector and Hummingbird offers kids both amusing and teachable moments with two funny, charming characters to escort them on the journey. An animated storyteller will have kids asking for this book again and again. It’s a great addition to the family library.

Ages 4 – 8

Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic, 2015 | ISBN 978-0545857017

Have fun perusing Nicholas John Frith’s online portfolio of illustrations, projects, and products!

International Day of Friendship Activity

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Best Friends Coloring Pages

 

Friends like to play together and color together! Here are two printable pages for you to have fun with. Why not text a friend and color them together?

Coloring Page 1

Coloring Page 2

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