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The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

The Birchbark House

by Louise Erdrich

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Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
Because I love Louise Erdrich, I gave this YA novel, the first in a series, a go. At first I wasn't too impressed; I thought the writing style a bit awkward, as Erdrich inserted explanations and English translations of Ojibwe words into the narrative, thwarting the flow. The character development felt a bit slow to me too. But somewhere around page 40 or so, I discovered I really wanted to follow this story, and when the main character, 8-year-old Omakayas (oh-MAH-kay-ahs) was allowed to tend her baby brother alone for the first time, I fell in love. The book follows a 19th century Ojibwe family through the four seasons of a year on their home island near the southern edge of Lake Superior. We share the chores of daily living as well as the bigger tasks of tanning hides, gathering wild rice, making makazins, storing food for the winter, sugaring off in the spring, and building their summer home, the titular birchbark house. There are five books in this series so far, and I'll keep reading. If subsequent entries hold up, I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys the Little House Books, for another perspective on 19th century America from a child's view. Oh, and the illustrations, which Erdrich apparently did herself, are special too. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Aug 27, 2017 |
Omakayas is an 8-year old Ojibwa in the mid-1800s. This story follows her for one year - four seasons - with her family and through her adventures during that time.

I really enjoyed this. It is children's lit, so it is a very fast read. I especially loved her interactions with animals (particularly the bears, and her pet crow, Andeg).
***POSSIBLE SPOILER*** The chapter when smallpox hit was especially good.***END SPOILER***
This actually reminded me a little bit of Little House on the Prairie: a kid's book, the time frame, and the nice illustrations peppered throughout the book. I likely will continue with this trilogy, and also try an adult book by Erdrich. ( )
  LibraryCin | Jul 23, 2017 |
Omakayas, is a seven year old Ojibwa girl and we follow her and her adopted family for four seasons in 1847 and this includes a smallpox outbreak, which decimated the tribe. This is a wonderful day to day, look at Native Americans living on an island in Lake Superior and it is fun to follow Omakayas on her various adventures, along with her pet crow Andeg. This is Erdrich's first young reader novel and a perfect companion to the Little House books. ( )
  msf59 | Jul 7, 2017 |
This book was heartbreaking. I shed many tears when Omakayas's little brother passed away. This book would be wonderful if I were teaching a unit on Native Americans. While this book was well written, I personally was not a huge fan of it because I found any action in the storyline to stem from sadness, which I don't love in a book. However, this book did teach me a lot about Native Americans including their kinship structures and the ways they were affected by white people immigrating to their lands. ( )
  alaina.loescher | Aug 5, 2016 |
For some reason this didn't quite hit my 'enjoy' button. I believe it was well-written, and it had a good mix of historical value, excitement, humor, family relationships, and coming-of-age inner story. I suspect the only kids who read it are those who get it read to them in school, though. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0786814543, Paperback)

Nineteenth-century American pioneer life was introduced to thousands of young readers by Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved Little House books. With The Birchbark House, award-winning author Louise Erdrich's first novel for young readers, this same slice of history is seen through the eyes of the spirited, 7-year-old Ojibwa girl Omakayas, or Little Frog, so named because her first step was a hop. The sole survivor of a smallpox epidemic on Spirit Island, Omakayas, then only a baby girl, was rescued by a fearless woman named Tallow and welcomed into an Ojibwa family on Lake Superior's Madeline Island, the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. We follow Omakayas and her adopted family through a cycle of four seasons in 1847, including the winter, when a historically documented outbreak of smallpox overtook the island.

Readers will be riveted by the daily life of this Native American family, in which tanning moose hides, picking berries, and scaring crows from the cornfield are as commonplace as encounters with bear cubs and fireside ghost stories. Erdrich--a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwa--spoke to Ojibwa elders about the spirit and significance of Madeline Island, read letters from travelers, and even spent time with her own children on the island, observing their reactions to woods, stones, crayfish, bear, and deer. The author's softly hewn pencil drawings infuse life and authenticity to her poetic, exquisitely wrought narrative. Omakayas is an intense, strong, likable character to whom young readers will fully relate--from her mixed emotions about her siblings, to her discovery of her unique talents, to her devotion to her pet crow Andeg, to her budding understanding of death, life, and her role in the natural world. We look forward to reading more about this brave, intuitive girl--and wholeheartedly welcome Erdrich's future series to the canon of children's classics. (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:08 -0400)

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Omakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847. For as long as Omakayas can remember, she and her family have lived on the land her people call the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. Although the chimookoman, white people, encroach more and more on their land, life continues much as it always has. Every summer the family builds a new birchbark house; every fall they go to ricing camp to harvest and feast; they move to the cedar log house before the first snows arrive, and celebrate the end of the long, cold winters at maple-sugaring camp. In between, Omakayas fights with her annoying little brother, Pinch, plays with the adorable baby, Neewo, and tries to be grown-up like her beautiful older sister, Angeline. But the satisfying rhythms of their lives are shattered when a visitor comes to their lodge one winter night, bringing with him an invisible enemy that will change things forever. Set on an island in Lake Superior in 1847, and filled with fascinating details of traditional Ojibwa life, The Birchbark House is a breathtaking novel by one of America's most gifted and original writers.… (more)

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