Saskatchewan NAC

The Drum Calls Softly - by David Bouchard & Shelley Willier


The Drum Calls Softly - by David Bouchard & Shelley Willier - Image 1
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Featuring Saskatchewan Artist(s): David Bouchard, Jim Poitras

2008, 32 pages, illustrated by: Jim Poitras
In English and Cree with CD included. Translation and music by Northern Cree  
Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Markham, Ontario

Canadian Children's Book Centre Our Choice, 2009

BolognaRagazzi Award Mention book, 2010

What the jury said:

"The joyful yet complex style of Jim Poitras is the vehicle for an enjoyable lesson in cultural anthropology. The clear contours of the foreground figures dialogue effortlessly with the landscapes in the background whose colourful, complex and material quality is rendered almost tangible. This novel illustration technique is particularly suited as a book for children since it highlights to great effect how man’s customs, lifestyles and traditions take on significance only when seen against the backdrop of the skies, hills, rivers and natural world that gave rise to them.

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 as Entre dans la Grande Ronde, which is in French and in Cree, and accompanied by a CD.

"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

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. Check out David’s website at

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.

ISBN: 0889954216

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