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The Song Within My Heart    by David Bouchard & Allen Sapp order for
Song Within My Heart
by David Bouchard
Order:  USA  Can
Raincoast, 2003 (2002)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

What strikes the reader first in this picture book is its artwork - by Cree painter Allen Sapp - which deservedly won the Canadian Governor General's Award for Children's Illustration. It pulls the reader in immediately to a First Nations community and the story of a boy and his 'Nokum' (grandmother).

There's a continual drumming in the background ... 'Close your eyes and listen / You might come to hear a story / That no one hears but you alone / A story of your very own.' It's all about a 'pow-wow', in which drums are drummed, songs are sung, and dances danced. The boy hears the preparations, and the sound makes his Nokum smile and sway as she hums along. When the boy has trouble understanding, 'She smiled as she looked down at me / And taught me how to hear and see.' She tells him to 'seek a rhythm that is true / Of all the secrets that are you.'

A note from the painter at the end of the book speaks of the 'renewal of soul and body' that happens at pow-wows, of how much we can learn from Elders 'if we will only listen', and of his own Nokum. The Song Within My Heart will warm your heart.

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