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The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

The Birchbark House

by Louise Erdrich

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Omakayas ("Little Frog") lives with her family on an island in Lake Superior in 1847. Her family consists of grandmother, father, mother, older sister Angeline, 5 year old brother Pinch and baby brother Neewo. At 8 years old Omakayas has learned to do many of the chores required for everyday life in the Ojibwa tribe - planting and harvesting, scraping hides, making makazins (footwear), fishing, and looking after her brothers. She also has a close spiritual connection to animals especially her pet crow Andeg and 2 playful bear cubs. Through the four seasons of an entire year Omakayas will endure great sorrow and joy and will finally learn the truth of her birth from a tribal elder, Old Tallow.

This was a charming little children's book and an interesting introduction to the Ojibwa culture. I will more than likely finish the series.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
A fine litlle book about a young girl. Bought for my granddaughter. Audible. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 25, 2015 |
Moving story of a pivotal year in an eight year old Native-American's life in 1847 Minnesota. I had read the fourth novel in the series and this is the first novel of the series. I am so glad I did. I think you will too! ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
Wonderful book, beautifully-written, and featuring history of the Native American populations in northern Minnesota (specifically, on Moningwanaykaning, Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker, or as most European-Americans call it, Madeline Island).

I have been to Madeline Island several times, and it was a thrill to recognize place names and features of the island. The book paints such vibrant pictures of life for our heroine, Omakayas (Little Frog), a young girl living through the seasons on the island, in the middle of the 19th century. Some very adult themes are broached carefully and gently (this is a Juvenile book).

I just loved this book, and I can't wait for the next in the Birchbark House series, The Game of Silence.

Here's one example of the beautiful writing:

...the only sound to disturb their dreams was the pine trees sifting wind in a lulling roar.

Lovely! ( )
  klobrien2 | Apr 15, 2015 |
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 | Apr 14, 2015 |
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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)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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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