The Song Within My Heart

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“Based on Cree painter Allen Sapp’s childhood memories of life on a reserve in Saskatchewan, The Song Within My Heart tells of a young boy who is getting ready to go to a powwow. Woven throughout the story is the boy’s close relationship with his Nokum (grandmother). Bouchard’s lyrical text, with its thoughtfully chosen words, evokes a quiet introspective mood. Richly textured and infused with an almost radiant light quality, the illustrations reinforce strongly the simplicity of life on a reserve, the significance of the powwow and, of course,

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Overview

“Based on Cree painter Allen Sapp’s childhood memories of life on a reserve in Saskatchewan, The Song Within My Heart tells of a young boy who is getting ready to go to a powwow. Woven throughout the story is the boy’s close relationship with his Nokum (grandmother). Bouchard’s lyrical text, with its thoughtfully chosen words, evokes a quiet introspective mood. Richly textured and infused with an almost radiant light quality, the illustrations reinforce strongly the simplicity of life on a reserve, the significance of the powwow and, of course, the love between grandmother and grandson.” (CM Magazine)

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The paintings depict scenes of Sapp's boyhood on a reservation in Saskatchewan. Thickly applied paint daubs and lines richly texture canvases that portray pow-wow scenes: a bright red shirt, Nokum's white braids or the vivid, blue sky punctuate the mostly earthy hues for a striking contrast.” (Publishers Weekly)
Publishers Weekly
Executed over a 17-year period, paintings by Cree elder Sapp (I Heard the Drums) inspire this often confusing verse narrative in which a Native American boy pays tribute to his Nokum (grandma). On the opening page, Bouchard (Qu' Appelle) addresses readers in two stanzas of rhyme ("Listen to the beating drum/ It tells a hundred stories"). Four lines of smaller gray type run along the bottom of the same page, using a single word to suggest drum beats ("BOOM boom boom boom" repeats seven times). Other pages pair narrative with chant instead of drum beat ("HI hey hey hey..."). The speaker recalls how his grandmother taught him to value his heritage; this part is clear, but as Bouchard fluctuates among direct address, quotes from Nokum and descriptions of a pow-wow, the structure is somewhat obscure (it seems that the speaker, now grown, is recalling preparations for his first pow-wow). The paintings depict scenes of Sapp's boyhood on a reservation in Saskatchewan. Thickly applied paint daubs and lines richly texture canvases that portray pow-wow scenes: a bright red shirt, Nokum's white braids or the vivid, blue sky punctuate the mostly earthy hues for a striking contrast. However, additional illustrations of Nokum (usually with her grandson at her side) feeding chickens or solemnly peeling potatoes may compound readers' difficulty in ascertaining the story's time and place. Ages 6-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
A young Cree boy is preparing for his first powwow with his grandmother as his guide. She explains to him what a powwow is and what the songs mean. Told in verse, the language is beautiful and rhythmic, much like the beat of the drums his elders play. The illustrations are gorgeous paintings by Allen Sapp, a noted Cree painter, whose grandmother was his guide and figures largely in his paintings. In addition to the paintings, the endpapers subtly show the rhythm of the chanting. This is a beautiful book about native peoples, a boy and his grandmother, and how the songs and stories are deep within everyone's' own hearts if they will only listen. 2003, Raincoast, Ages 7 to 10.
— Joan Kindig, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-A Cree Indian boy is attending his first pow-wow with his beloved grandmother and has many questions. In poetic form, Nokum encourages her grandson to close his eyes and listen carefully, and takes the opportunity to teach him about the importance of passing stories on to the next generation: "A story is a sacred thing/That should be passed from age to youth/I choose to share my best with you/That you might own and share them too." The drummers share their stories with the people through the rhythm of the drumbeats. Bouchard based his text on early memories of renowned Cree artist Allen Sapp, whose stunning paintings are showcased in this book. Sapp grew up on the Red Pheasant Reserve in Saskatchewan, and each of his paintings tells a story of his early life. The artwork supports the lyrical and heartfelt text but is not always a perfect match. Nonetheless, it features intimate portraits of the Cree, always from a child's perspective, and always focuses on the strength, beauty, and hope of the people.-Wendy Woodfill, Hennepin County Library, Minnetonka, MN Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780889955004
  • Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited
  • Publication date: 12/15/2014
  • Pages: 32

Meet the Author

David Bouchard's books have won several prestigious awards, among them: the Canadian Aboriginal Book of the Year in 2007 for Nokum Is My Teacher as well as being short listed for the 2007 Alberta Children's Book of the Year. Check out David's website at www.davidbouchard.com.

Allen Sapp is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Canadian Academy of Arts. A Cree elder, he was raised by his grandmother on the Red Pheasant reserve in Saskatchewan and now calls North Battleford home. The memory of this tender relationship has spawned in Sapp some of his finest and most sensitive works, bringing to his canvas a sense of affection and love.

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