The Birchbark House Author:Louise Erdrich 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,... more » 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.« less
Having never read either series, I coincidentally read this book just after finishing the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. I loved it - hands down. Louise Erdrich's series is a wonderful blend of realism and fantasy that weaves day-to-day details of Ojibwa life with supernatural/spiritual flourishes. Also to the author's credit, this and the following two books, "The Year of the Porcupine" and "The Game of Silence," are not without sadness. It would make a good project to read Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie" in comparison to Erdrich's "The Birchbark House." Both fictional stories take place in the late 19th century and are written from a young girl's point-of-view. Both stories take place during the time of pressuring Indians out of their homeland to move onto reservations. This tense theme lurks in the background without overshadowing each simple, heartfelt story. I cannot wait to find out if there will be a fourth book!
After so many children's books that casually provide negative stereotypes of Indians, The Birchbark House is a positive book about Ashinabe or Ojibwa people in Minnesota in 1847. It has the dual merits of being impeccably historically researched and having a strong narrative. I read it out loud to my second grader--the language was beautiful and he demanded more at the end of each chapter. There was a lot to talk about afterward: this is a book you could read just for the pleasure of it, but it also provides a good opportunity to talk about life's biggest issues: religion, culture, adoption, family, life and death.
OH! a truly wonderful story for all- even adults. My youngest son read this book as assigned summer reading a few years ago- I casually picked it up and was hooked- read it in one long sitting- it is a unique, moving, and very poigniant story about a Native American girl and her family.
I think this book is especially fitting for children who have experienced adoption. I hope others will enjoy it as much as our family did- It's a keeper.
This is a lovely children's book. It follows 7-year-old Ojibwe girl Omakayas and her family through a year (1847, I think). Some reviews have compared it to Little House on the Prairie (but from the Native perspective), and it does have some similarities: mainly, the combination of watching the family go through both normal activities like setting up their summer home, dealing with sibling tensions, picking berries, and raising a pet crow, and major events like a smallpox outbreak.
I haven't read the sequels, The Game of Silence and The Porcupine Year, yet, but if they're anything like this one, I'd recommend them all.