Li'l Dan, the Drummer Boy: A Civil War Story

by Romare Bearden

Artist Romare Bearden is best known for his vibrant collages depicting Black life... read more

Artist Romare Bearden is best known for his vibrant collages depicting Black life in America, especially in Harlem. This work showcases Bearden’s series of paintings and original story about a slave boy named Li’l Dan who joins a regiment of Black Union soldiers during the Civil War. Li’l Dan becomes their mascot, entertaining the men with his nightly drumming. When he sees the troops marching into danger during a battle, Li’l Dan is able to recreate the sound of a cannon on his drum, frightening the enemy away. Needless to say, he becomes a hero, invited by General Sherman himself to join the Union’s Drum Corps. Bearden’s child-pleasing, hopeful story is energized by wonderful art that blends line and color into vivid scenes of action, or moments of quieter repose. African American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., a friend of the late Bearden, has written the foreword, in which he shares some memories of his friend, as well as the first time he viewed the panels and heard the story that now comprise this book. (Age 8 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004

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