Calling the Water Drum
By LaTisha Redding
Illustrated by Aaron Boyd
Henri and his parents leave their homeland, Haiti, after they receive an invitation from an uncle to come to New York City. Only able to afford a small, rickety boat, the family sets out in the middle of the night in search of a better life. Out at sea, Henri dreams of what life will be like “across the great waters.”
Then the small boat overturns, and Henri is placed on top of the boat as his parents drift further out at sea. Overcome with grief, Henri retreats into himself and is no longer able to speak once he reaches land. Encouraged by his uncle and neighbor, Henri takes a bucket and plays on it like a drum. The drumming becomes a link to his past and a conduit for his emotions. Slowly, through his drumming and the kindness of his uncle and friend, Henri learns to navigate this new and foreign world without his parents.
Calling the Water Drum is a tender and beautiful tribute to the resiliency of children and the human spirit.
Check out Calling the Water Drum in the Multicultural Children's Book Day Classroom Empathy Kit.
About the Creators
LaTisha Redding makes her picture book debut with Calling the Water Drum. She was inspired to write this story based on the memories of some of her Haitian friends’ stories of how they arrived in the United States. This book is a tribute to everyone who has courageously set forth with hope to start a new life in a new country. Redding lives in the sunshine state, Florida.
AARON BOYD has illustrated numerous picture books, including Calling the Water Drum, Janna and the Kings, and Babu's Song for Lee & Low Books. His work has been recognized by the Children's Africana Book Award and the International Literacy Association (ILA). He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can visit him online at aaronboydart.blogspot.com.