From the Publisher
"The illustrations in this book by Native American painter Jim Poitras are exceptional, and one of the best parts of the book. They are full page, sometimes double page, and in earth tones but colourful. Some of the pages have ghost-like silhouettes of native warriors or dancers against the backdrop of fields or sky. . . This could be used as an introduction to the book in the classroom or assembly hall.
-- CM Magazine
"The blurb on the front cover of The Drum Calls Softly asserts that this illustrated book is of equal importance to children and adults-a blurb has never been so right. From the beautifully painted illustrations to the world-class musicianship of Northern Cree on the accompanying audio CD, The Drum is a powerfully narrated tale of spiritual belonging that transcends cultural barriers, whether you page through the book listening to the narration in Cree, or you follow the story on its own."
-- ForeWord Magazine
"Four full-page wordless spreads with mountains, teepee, and buffalo give readers a chance to pause and contemplate the words…. A good choice for libraries with strong Native culture collections."
-- School Library Journal
"Breathtaking and imaginative illustrations by Jim Poitras complement the words and music as perfectly as if they came together at the beginning of time. The overwhelming landscapes and colorful skies take center stage, while silhouetted humans blend into the natural world below….The Drum Calls Softly is so much more than a book or a CD. This is an important addition to any child's library - to any library!"
-- Curled Up With A Good Kids Book
"Resounding with themes of community and the cyclical rhythms of life, this lyrical tale by Bouchard and debut author Willier pays tribute to the power of Cree traditions."
-- Publishers Weekly
"Poitras' illustrations set on ochre backgrounds are evocative in a direct and naive way and support both the tone and the subject of the book. Night, dawn and daylight reveal the Cree people's life in community, on the plains and near the water, and on every page celebrate a strong connection to nature and to a life of spirit. An important book. . .
Rating: G - Good, even great at times, generally useful!"
-- Resource Links
"As one listens and flips the pages, Poitras' colorful paintings convey the mood of the text. Silhouette figures, sometimes as dancers in the round dance, sometimes as hunters on the plains, are set against backgrounds depicted in bold colors with sweeping brushstrokes. There is even a scene of a round dance inside a gymnasium, which reminds us of the book's contemporary relevance; and several double-page vistas of the prairie landscape act in counterpoint to the pages containing text. The Drum Calls Softly is a truly interactive book and a unique experience for readers of all ages. It may call softly, but this drumbeat is compelling and definitely worth following."
"Readers will gain an appreciation for the passion and beauty of native cultures."
-- Guelph Mercury
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.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
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
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)