Calling the Water Drum
By Kirkus Reviews
A powerful story of loss and survival, human connection and hope.Henri plays his red bucket like a drum. It's his only physical tie to his parents, who perished while attempting to cross the sea from Haiti to Florida in a small rowboat. He survived and was rescued by refugees in a larger boat, and a note with his New Yorker uncle's name and contact information allows him to find safety in the United States. But Henri is emotionally scarred by the many losses he's endured, and he retreats into selective muteness. Playing his bucket-drum is a way for him to express himself, and his neighbor, an African-American girl named Karrine, who lost her father in the aftermath of "a hurricane in Louisiana," provides companionship and understanding. It is to Karrine that Henri speaks his first word when she says: "I miss my daddy, Henri. Do you miss your parents?" and "a sound rises like a wave in my throat. I open my mouth and one word spills out. ‘Wi.' Yes." Redding's distinguished text sensitively portrays the tragedies young Henri and Karrine have faced, and Boyd's watercolor illustrations expressively convey the love of Henri's family, the perils of their sea crossing, and the range of emotions he experiences as he finds his way in New York with his uncle and friends. Moving.