The Call of the Drums
He Who Dreams by Melanie Florence, published by Orca Book Publishers is a fabulous mirror/window middle grade novel. John McCaffrey is a typical young man, most likely middle school aged. He loves sports, does alright in school, and is a member of the school soccer team. John's mom is Cree and his dad is Irish. John is the spitting image of his dad, right down to the red hair so when John identifies as Indigenous he is often accused of lying. When he is tasked with dropping his younger sister off at her art lessons at the Community Centre, he hears the call of the drums. Those drums connect John to his roots and have him balancing between his need to dance and his commitment to his soccer team.
He Who Dreams is a book that really requires you to ask questions and face your own biases. John does not look like a typical Indigenous young man, but really what does that even mean. We are so caught up in appearances and identifying people based on their looks instead of what is in their hearts. No one is immune. When John joins a dance group at the Native Cultural Centre, he is once again ostracized because he doesn't look like the rest of the dancers. He is accused of appropriating their culture when in fact it is his culture as well. This story is a great reminder to embrace our culture and really truly seek our connections to our family and our history. Those connections make us whole and provide us with support. In the beginning John struggles with juggling all of his responsibilities: soccer, school, dance, etc. In the end, his connection to his heritage makes him not only physically stronger, but mentally stronger and gives him the courage to acknowledge and own both sides of himself. A fantastic book for anyone who has experienced the hurt of being judged by their appearance and not by their heart,