The Drum Calls Softly

David Bouchard, Author, Shelly Willier, Author, Jim Poitras, Illustrator
David Bouchard, Author, Shelly Willier, Author, Jim Poitras, Illustrator , illus. by Jim Poitras. Red Deer Press $24.95 (30p) ISBN 978-0-88995-421-2
Reviewed on: 12/08/2008
Release date: 11/01/2008

Resounding with themes of community and the cyclical rhythms of life, this lyrical tale by Bouchard (Nokum Is My Teacher ) and debut author Willier pays tribute to the power of Cree traditions. The mostly rhyming verse (a Cree version runs with the English) is narrated by a youth who visits a First Nations gathering: “Have you danced the round dance yet?/ It's always been my favorite one./ My Moosum and my Kokum/ Let me dance it to the rising sun.” Without notes or definitions for the smattering of Cree words, the presentation assumes some prior knowledge of Native cultures; readers will have to trust the rhythms of the writing and the strong imagery to fill in the gaps. Poitras, like the authors a Canadian of Native American heritage, uses ever-changing panoramas of sky in his illustrations, dwarfing the people and horses silhouetted in black. The paintings detail both present and past, as full-bleed spreads sans text evoke an undeveloped landscape or grazing bison. A CD containing English and Cree readings of the story, as well as Cree round dance music, is included. Ages 4–8. (Dec.)

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