I remember sitting on my bed, reading this book with my parents and my brother. At the time I never even tried to guess what the message of the book was, I just loved the repetitiveness of the verse, and the fact that I got to cuddle up to my Mom on my bed.
When my son was two years old he managed to smack his head on the metal handle of a desk drawer and needed to go to the hospital to get stitches. While we were sitting in the waiting room at the local ER I had to find ways to amuse a very cranky boy and came across a stack of children’s books and decided to rummage through them and see if there was something there that I could read to the Oldest Son, and I actually squealed with glee as I pulled a very worn copy of Drummer Hoff. The cover was worn and the sleeve with the artwork was missing, but there it was in front of me, a book that I hadn’t thought about in decades. As I quickly flipped through the pages a flood of emotions washed over me and I knew that I had to share this book with my son. I sat there reading that book to the Oldest Son, and I think he enjoyed it as much as I had when I was his age, and as we left the ER hours later with a very unhappy toddler who now had a new set of stitches across his eyebrow, I decided that I had to rush to Chapters and see if I could find a copy of that book with the colourful artwork.
As a child I’d never even cared about what the message of the book was, but as an adult I became aware that there is a debate about what the message of the book is.
The theme of the book is very militaristic, with a line of men, all of them different ranks, each of them bringing a different part of a cannon and assembling it and at the very end Drummer Hoff ‘fired it off’. Of course the last few pages there is no writing, just brilliant images of a broken cannon with birds nesting in the muzzle and a spider web on the wick used to fire it.
Some feel that the message is one of peace, since the last pages are so obviously not conveying a message of military might. But perhaps the message could be that in the past there were wars, since the attire of those soldiers are historical and not modern in nature, and the broken cannon at the end could be conveying a hope for peace in the future.
Now that I’ve told you about my love for Drummer Hoff, and my feelings about the message the book shares, I think I’ll leave you now and go find my copy so I can spend a relaxing morning with Drummer Hoff, Private Parridge,
Sgt. Chowder, General Border and all the other fellows in uniform.