Calling the Water Drum
Written by LaTisha Redding
Illustrated by Aaron Boyd
This story saddened me. A young boy and his parents secretly left Haiti in the middle of the night with just enough money to buy a rickety boat with hopes of crossing the “great water” to the United States even though the couldn’t even swim. Uncle Jacques had sent for them from New York. However, during the night, the waves overturned the boat and the boy watched the waves push his parents farther and farther away until he could no longer see them. Henri was left with memories – and the bucket that he used to scoop water out of the leaking boat. Henri finally reached the shore but there was no sign of his parents.
Henri eventually made it to his uncle in New York. Unable to speak since the tragedy, Henri tapped on his bucket. The sound of the make-shift drum was deep like his father’s voice and warm like his mother’s laugh. Henri finally speaks when asked if he misses his parents and finds happiness in the rhythm pulsing in his heart as he beats his drum and his uncle and neighbor friends dance along.
While the author note is quite sobering, Redding indicates that Henri’s story reflects “both the uncertainty and the hope that exist side by side with sacrifice and courage in forging a new life.” Read more >>
Buy the Book: Calling the Water Drum
Originally posted on March 25, 2021.