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Li'l Dan, the Drummer Boy: A Civil War Story Hardcover – September 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Book and CD edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689862377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689862373
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 0.4 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #534,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-4-This recently discovered work by the renowned African-American artist is not to be missed. It is the story of Li'l Dan, a slave on the Hollis plantation, who listens nightly to Mr. Ned play his drum from faraway Africa. As he learns more, he makes his own drum, practicing all of the sounds he hears. When black Union soldiers tell him that he's free, he follows them. A short time later, he uses his drum to save his new friends from enemy attack and is congratulated by General Sherman. Although the story is worthy in its own right, the 21 mixed-media paintings are the outstanding element here. With rich colors and bold black outlines, the dramatic art shows the influence of abstract expressionism. Brilliant blue Union uniforms and dark skin stand out against the white spaces, and text and art are in perfect balance. Beginning letters on many pages also reflect the illustrations in color, shape, and style. The simplicity of primary colors and abstract figures express so much more than the text alone. There is no doubt about Dan's intensity as he listens to the sounds of the woods and taps out the song with his fingertips. Li'l Dan is small-seemingly insignificant against the large soldiers in their striking uniforms. Yet his strength and self-assurance fill the page when he confidently strikes out the cannon fire. On the accompanying CD, Maya Angelou's mellow voice and easy pace complement this beautiful, creative work.-Carolyn Janssen, Children's Learning Center of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

K-Gr. 3. Renowned African American artist Bearden, who died in 1988, wrote and illustrated this story about a slave boy who lives on a Southern plantation. Li'l Dan makes himself a drum and uses it to imitate the sounds around him: singing people, cawing birds, clacking leaves, and crashing thunder. After the Union army liberates him, Dan follows the soldiers of Company E, becomes their "mascot," and saves them from a Confederate cavalry unit with his remarkable drumming. Bearden's illustrations are expressive, and some are quite wonderful, but children may find it odd that Dan looks different from page to page, partly because the artist's style varies and partly because Dan's size and proportions seem to fluctuate. Still, children will enjoy the book as a Civil War story featuring a courageous African American boy, and adults will appreciate it as the only picture book Bearden left behind. Maya Angelou reads the story aloud quite effectively on the accompanying CD. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on January 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
LI'L DAN, THE DRUMMER BOY is a story about a young boy who uses his special talents to save a company of Union soldiers. Dan learned to play the drum as a result of a lot of perseverance and lessons from a slave who lived on the same plantation. One day, he runs into a group of Union soldiers who explain that he and all other slaves are now free. Later, when the company runs into some Confederate soldiers, Dan uses quick thinking and his drum to try and save the day.

LI'L DAN, THE DRUMMER BOY is not just a pleasant and educational children's book, but also an important addition to African-American literary history. The book is the only children's book written and illustrated by the renowned artist, Romare Bearden. The illustrations in the book reflect his trademark artistic style, and as a result, the book not only sheds light on the Civil War era but is an excellent introduction to an important African-American artist.

The book also includes an audio CD which features Maya Angelou reading the story aloud. While her performance is not breathtaking, it does allow children to either read along or follow along with the illustrations as she reads. Overall, this is a wonderfully packaged piece of children's literature.

Reviewed by Stacey Seay

of The RAWSISTAZ™ Reviewers
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
My 7 year old daughter wants to be both a drummer, like her father and an artist like her aunt. Her two favorite books this year are Lil Dan and DRUM, CHAVI, DRUM! This book is about a slave who learns to make and play drum sounds and when he is freed, through his drumming, he saves others. DRUM, CHAVI, DRUM! is about a little Cuban barrio working-class girl who is not allowed to play Conga drums becasue she is a girl. She and her best friend sneak to the largest Latino festival in the United States: Little Havana Calle Ocho Festival and she finds a way to show everyone that she was born to be a drummer. Both tales moved my daughter (and me). If you have a creative child that loves art and music, these are the two books to get not only for their inspiring tales, but also for the lively writing and the beautiful illustrations.
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By G EVAN STODDARD on March 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loved the story. Loved the illustrations, of course. It's great that Bearden's family and friends took the pains to get it published after his death so we can all enjoy it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great little story to use in my music classroom. Arrived promptly and in great shape! Looking forward to integrating it into patriotic unit.
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