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The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

The Birchbark House

by Louise Erdrich

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This was an excellent story talking about the invasion of white people with their disease of small pox. Also, a great story that shows the seasons from the eye of the Ojibwe. The illustrations throughout the story helped you imagine the people and places in the story better. I loved how the beginning of the story foreshadowed the end, even through I did not see all the foreshadowing out until I was done! ( )
  Mlfjeld | Jan 20, 2019 |
Middle years children's book by one of my favorite adult authors. Richest detailed story of a young Anishinabe girl and her family in the 1830s or 1840s. Daily life, but also wonderful sacred and teaching stories and unique events. ( )
  Grace.Van.Moer | Jan 7, 2018 |
Book on CD narrated by Nicolle Littrell

What Laura Ingalls Wilder did for the pioneer families in 19th century plains states, Erdrich has done for the Native Americans in this same time period.

Omakayas is a seven-year-old Ojibwa girl living in Michigan. She is the sole survivor of a small pox epidemic when she’s taken into another family as an infant. Tallow is a strong matriarch and Omakayas (also called Little Frog), thrives in the community on Lake Superior’s Madeline Island, also known as the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. The book follows Omakayas, her family and the tribe through four seasons of 1847.

I was fascinated by this story of the life of the Native Americans during this time period. I learned about the hard work of tanning hides, the craft of decorating special garments with intricate beadwork, the cycles of hunting and gathering, and the dangers (and joys) of living so close to nature.

Omakayas is a wonderful narrator – inquisitive, observant, intelligent, and compassionate. She’s also a typical seven year old – sometimes a little naughty, and not always understanding the reasons why she is asked to perform certain tasks, or forbidden from other adventures. I can see why this is sometimes taught in social studies classes for middle-grade students.

Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwa, and she spoke to various Ojibwa elders about the significance of Madeline Island. Events depicted are historically accurate (including a documented small pox epidemic). The text version includes Erdrich’s pencil drawing illustrations.

Nicolle Littrell does a fine job performing the audio version. She has good pacing and the book is clearly understandable for even younger readers. ( )
1 vote BookConcierge | Dec 29, 2017 |
This book is discussed within my graduate author presentation.
  Kathrin.McCoy | Nov 27, 2017 |
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 |
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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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