The Drum Calls Softly

The Drum Calls Softly cover

On March 23, 2010, a Canadian picture book was honored at the 47th annual Bologna Children’s Book Fair – a coveted recognition for publishers all over the world. The book, The Drum Calls Softly (Red Deer Press) received the Non-Fiction Mention award. To purchase the book: click here. Our book was only the second canadian book ever sellected in thier 47 year history…

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I am so proud to have been asked to be the illustrator of our award winning book.One of the high lights of my art career and I look forward to publish more books of my art,before I am done.I am now looking for the right publisher,for art books,art cards and books for my poems…My art career has given me far more than I ever could of dreamt for…All My Relations… 


What the jury said about the book: 

“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 dialog effortlessly with the landscapes in the background whose colorful, 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, lifestyle and traditions take on significance only when seen against the backdrop of the skies, hills, rivers and natuiral world that gave rise to them.”

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.


Canadian Literature (#205)

Summer Issue – July 7, 2010

“For those interested in attempts to recreate Aboriginal storytelling in textualized forms, the multimedia and bilingual English-Cree format of The Drum Calls Softly is an engaging instance. David Bouchard’s and Shelley Willier’s English stanzas precede Steve Wood’s Cree translations on the most left-hand side of each two-page spread, and Jim Poitras’s pictures of Aboriginal people in mostly natural environments overlap the left page as well as being accorded full right-hand sides and four two-page spreads. Thus graphic particulars insist on the importance of visual aspects of the story. The emotive reading of the narrative poetry on the accompanying CD, complete with drumming and singing by Northern Cree, flute music by Bouchard, and sounds of flowing water and crying raven, not only reproduce other aspects of embodied storytelling, but they foster Cree language learning by allowing students to hear the sounds of the Cree words, strangely printed without accents. Over the course of the storytelling, the magic of the round-dance to the heartbeat pulsing of the drum becomes one with the circle of a child’s day from dawn to night and with natural and human lifecycles.”

Reviewed by Susan Gingell


“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. Recommended”

— CM 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.”

— Publishers Weekly

“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
“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
“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

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