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Children's Fiction Native Canadian

The Song Within My Heart

by (author) David Bouchard

illustrated by Allen Sapp

by (composer) Northern Cree

Red Deer Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2019
Native Canadian, Canada, Multigenerational
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2015
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2019
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2002
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2015
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 2


Listen to the beating drum
It tells a hundred stories
Of our people, of our homeland
Some of birds and beasts and sweet grass.
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.

Renowned Cree painter Allen Sapp's inspired and stunning artwork beautifully complements this sweet story of a young First Nations boy preparing for his first pow-wow. The young boy's Nokum—his beloved grandmother—guides him through the exciting day and watches over him as events unfold. David Bouchard's rhythmic and informative text is based on remembrances from Allen Sapp's childhood.

Winner of the Governor General's Literacy Award, The Song Within My Heart is a beautifully crafted picture book that refects the wonders of life on a reserve, the importance of the pow-wow, and ultimately, the love between grandmother and grandson.

Go to to hear the audio of the spoken words in English, with the wonderful music of Northern Cree,
go to to hear the audio of the spoken words in Cree, again with the wonderful music of Northern Cree.

About the authors

British Columbia's best-selling author and most sought-after public speaker has presented to hundreds of thousands of educators, parents and students the world over. This former teacher and principal of 28 years champions literacy. His message is spelled out in his best selling books The Gift of Reading and For the Love of Reading.
"The greatest gift we can give our children is the gift of reading and there is no magic in giving it. There is no toy or program that will do the job for us. It takes time, commitment and most of all, fire. We cannot hope to light a fire in the hearts of others without a fire burning in our own. Light and stoke yours, then spread the flame fast and furious. Let literacy be your legacy."
Bouchard outlines individual roles and responsibilities in ascertaining that all children are given the gift of reading. He inspires like none other and leaves his listeners with a concrete plan and the rejuvenation needed to face literacy issues head on.
Born and raised on the Canadian prairie, the author of over twenty five best selling books now lives in British Columbia with his wife Vicki and their combined family of seven.
David Bouchard's books have won several prestigious awards, among them: the Governor General's Award for The Song Within My Heart in 2004 and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry award for Voices From the Wild in 1997. If You're not from the Prairie is listed on MacLean's list of the Top Twenty Children's books in the history of Canada.
You can access his web page at


David Bouchard's profile page

Allen Sapp is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Canadian Academy of Arts. A Cree elder, he was raised by his grandmother on the Red Pheasant reserve in Saskatchewan and now calls North Battleford home. The memory of this tender relationship has spawned in Sapp some of his finest and most sensitive works, bringing to his canvas a sense of affection and love. Visit Allen�s web site at

Allen Sapp's profile page

Northern Cree's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Sapp's illustrations, rendered in thickly textured oil paint, emphasize the bond and love that the boy feels for his grandmother. The sense of emotional connection to a powwow is portrayed through the spare, poetic text. . . A strong offering about powwows, familial love, and finding understanding from within."
School Library Journal

"A heartfelt intergenerational story about knowing and preserving heritage and love between elders and young ones. . . Bouchard's rhythmic text successfully conveys an emotive and sensory approach to the relationship between the two, enriching the story and echoing the hand-lettered onomatopoeic syllables that represent chanting and drumbeats. Sapp's profound paintings bring sincere and reassuring images that support and enhance the tale. A stunning picture book that celebrates life, family relations, and determination to preserve traditions and heritage."
Kirkus Starred Review

"The paintings are both simple and profound, serene and dynamic."
The Globe and Mail

"This is a good choice for units on Native Americans; it will be especially valuable for children trying to understand the feelings connected with this ceremony."

"Based on Cree painter Allen Sapp's childhood memories of life on a reserve in Saskatchewan, The Song Within My Heart tells of a young boy who is getting ready to go to a pow wow. Woven throughout the story is the boy's close relationship with his Nokum (grandmother). Bouchard's lyrical text, with its thoughtfully chosen words, evokes a quiet, introspective mood. Richly textured and infused with an almost radiant light quality, the illustrations reinforce strongly the simplicity of life on a reserve, the significance of the pow wow and, of course, the love between grandmother and grandson. Beautifully crafted.
Highly Recommended."
CM Magazine

Librarian Reviews

The Song Within My Heart

This is the story of a young boy and his grandmother and how she taught him to hear and see, to learn his story. The Song Within My Heartis the title of an exhibit of paintings done between 1990 and 2002 by Allen Sapp, a Cree Elder from Saskatchewan. The pictures are a way for the artist to preserve his culture. They depict bannock making, drumming, dancing at a pow-wow, and everyday activities. David Bouchard’s poetry implores the reader to listen.

The book won a Governor General’s Award. Sapp is an Officer of the Order of Canada. Previous books include A Cree Life, Two Spirits Soar, and I Heard the Drums. Bouchard has written many children’s books including Qu’Appelle, If You’re Not From the Prairie and The Elders Are Watching.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2007-2008.

Other titles by David Bouchard

Other titles by Allen Sapp