The Drum Calls Softly

Overview


Translation and music by Northern Cree

Have you danced the round dance yet?


Of course you have-you're in my dream.


You've danced in circles next to me


You now know things aren't as they seem.

Beloved children's author David Bouchard has teamed up with emerging writer Shelly Willier to create a heart-warming tale in his newest book, The ...

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Overview


Translation and music by Northern Cree

Have you danced the round dance yet?


Of course you have-you're in my dream.


You've danced in circles next to me


You now know things aren't as they seem.

Beloved children's author David Bouchard has teamed up with emerging writer Shelly Willier to create a heart-warming tale in his newest book, The Drum Calls Softly. Discover the beauty of the traditional Round Dance through the lush descriptive verse of Bouchard and Willier that leads you through the cycles and seasons of life, the forming of new friendships and the understanding of values.

Illustrations by internationally acclaimed painter Jim Poitras colorfully grace the pages, bringing the words alive through the intricate movements of the Round Dancers.

And Northern Cree teams up once again with David Bouchard, providing the translation from English to Cree and the haunting drum music on a bound-in book CD.

Also available in French and in Cree, and accompanied by a CD.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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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School Library Journal

K-Gr 5

This bilingual book (English and Cree) recounts in verse the Round Dance, a celebration of the seasonal changes in nature and in life. The roughly rhyming narrative is told through the voice of a young person but assumes prior knowledge of Native customs and phrases. Cree words are used in context but not defined. "I'm tired but I feel warm and good./My Moosum and my Kokum/lead me home the way I knew they would." At times, the text reads almost like a riddle: "I bid my Kokum to come near/and ask if she can hear at all/I whisper softly, 'Can you hear/the circles in my heart-they call??? '" The illustrations range from striking silhouettes of human figures, horses, and trees against mostly watercolor backgrounds to more abstract and modern images of Native symbols such as a red handprint and a Native face with tears. Four full-page wordless spreads with mountains, teepee, and buffalo give readers a chance to pause and contemplate the words. This book is best used as a read-aloud. A CD reciting the text in English and Cree with Round Dance drumming accompanies the book. A good choice for libraries with strong Native culture collections.-Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
With paired verses in English and Cree matched to broad, finely detailed scenes of dancing silhouettes placed against semi-abstract backgrounds, this illustrated poem compellingly invites readers to join the Round Dance at a powwow. The authors-he of Metis descent, she a member of the Sucker Creek First Nation Reserve-use a child's voice, but the language is allusive, often mystical: "Have you danced the round dance yet? / Of course you have-you're in my dream. / You've danced in circles next to me. / You know things aren't as they seem." Illustrator Poitras-of Cree, Salteaux and Metis heritage-provides often equally obscure images (one depicts two weeping faces behind a fragmented barrier on which are painted an eye, a travois, a buffalo and a handprint) that nevertheless can provide valuable context (another sets the powwow inside a hockey rink). Readers will come away hearing the drums-both figuratively and literally, as this is packaged with a CD that includes readings in both languages, plus two tracks of traditional-style dance music. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780889954212
  • Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited
  • Publication date: 11/28/2008
  • Edition description: Bilingual
  • Pages: 30
  • Sales rank: 1,240,800
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.10 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

British Columbia's best-selling author and most sought after public speaker, David Bouchard, has presented to hundreds of thousands of educators, parents and students. This former teacher and principal of 28 years is a champion of literacy around the world. 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.

Jim Poitras was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and is of Cree, Salteaux, and Metis descent. Jim's awareness of his heritage grew slowly over the years. He is self-taught in several art media, and is inspired by First Nations music and particularly the drum beat of Mother Earth speaking to her people.

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