The Birchbark House (Birchbark House Series #1)

The Birchbark House (Birchbark House Series #1)

by Louise Erdrich

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Her name is Omakayas, or Little Frog, because her first step was a hop, and she lives on an island in Lake Superior. It is 1850 and the lives of the Ojibwe have returned to a familiar rhythm: they build their birchbark houses in the summer, go to the ricing camps in the fall to harvest and feast, and move to their cozy cedar log cabins near the town of LaPointe before the first snows.

Satisfying routines of Omakayas's days are interrupted by a surprise visit from a group of desperate and mysterious people. From them, she learns that all their lives may drastically change. The chimookomanag, or white people, want Omakayas and her people to leave their island in Lake Superior and move farther west. Omakayas realizes that something so valuable, so important that she never knew she had it in the first place, is in danger: Her home. Her way of life.

In this captivating sequel to National Book nominee The Birchbark House, Louise Erdrich continues the story of Omakayas and her family.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780756911867
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication date: 09/01/2000
Series: Birchbark House Series , #1
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 735,180
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Louise Erdrich is the author of fifteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her debut novel, Love Medicine, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Erdrich has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.

Louise Erdrich is the author of fifteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her debut novel, Love Medicine, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Erdrich has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.


Minneapolis, Minnesota

Date of Birth:

June 7, 1954

Place of Birth:

Little Falls, Minnesota


B.A., Dartmouth College, 1976; M.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1979

Read an Excerpt

The Game of Silence

By Louise Erdrich


ISBN: 0-06-029789-1

Chapter One

The Raggedy Ones

When they were close enough to touch bottom with their paddles, the people poured out of the nearly swamped canoes. The grown-ups held little ones and the little ones held even smaller ones. There were so many people jammed into each boat that it was a wonder they had made it across. The grown-ups, the ones who wore clothes, bunched around the young. A murmur of pity started among the people who had gathered on shore when they heard Omakayas's shout, for the children had no clothing at all, they were naked. In a bony, hungry, anxious group, the people from the boats waded ashore. They looked at the ground, fearfully and in shame. They were like skinny herons with long poles for legs and clothes like drooping feathers. Only their leader, a tall old man wearing a turban of worn cloth, walked with a proud step and held his head up as a leader should. He stood calmly, waiting for his people to assemble. When everyone was ashore and a crowd was gathered expectantly, he raised his thin hand and commanded silence with his eyes.

Everyone's attention was directed to him as he spoke.

"Brothers and sisters, we are glad to see you! Daga, please open your hearts to us! We have come from far away."

He hardly needed to urge kindness. Immediately, families greeted cousins, old friends, lost relatives, those they hadn't seen in years. Fishtail, a close friend of Omakayas's father, clasped the old chief in his arms. The dignified chief's name was Miskobines, Red Thunder, and he was Fishtail's uncle. Blankets were soon draping bare shoulders, and the pitiful naked children were covered, too, with all of the extra clothing that the people could find. Food was thrust into the hungry people's hands-strips of dried fish and bannock bread, maple sugar and fresh boiled meat. The raggedy visitors tried to contain their hunger, but most fell upon the food and ate wolfishly. One by one, family by family, the poor ones were taken to people's homes. In no time, the jeemaanan were pulled far up on the beach and the men were examining the frayed seams and fragile, torn stitching of spruce that held the birchbark to the cedar frames. Omakayas saw her grandmother, her sister, and her mother, each leading a child. Her mother's eyes were wide-set and staring with anger, and she muttered explosive words underneath her breath. That was only her way of showing how deeply she was affected; still, Omakayas steered clear. Her brother, Pinch, was followed by a tall skinny boy hastily wrapped in a blanket. He was the son of the leader, Miskobines, and he was clearly struggling to look dignified. The boy looked back in exhaustion, as if wishing for a place to sit and rest. But seeing Omakayas, he flushed angrily and mustered strength to stagger on ahead. Omakayas turned her attention to a woman who trailed them all. One child clutched her ragged skirt. She carried another terribly thin child on a hip. In the other arm she clutched a baby. The tiny bundle in her arms made no movement and seemed limp, too weak to cry.

The memory of her poor baby brother, Neewo, shortened Omakayas's breath. She jumped after the two, leaving the intrigue of the story of their arrival for later, as well as the angry boy's troubling gaze. Eagerly, she approached the woman and asked if she could carry the baby.

The woman handed over the little bundle with a tired sigh. She was so poor that she did not have a cradle board for the baby, or a warm skin bag lined with rabbit fur and moss, or even a trade blanket or piece of cloth from the trader's store. For a covering, she had only a tiny piece of deerskin wrapped into a rough bag. Even Omakayas's dolls had better clothing and better care. Omakayas cuddled the small thing close. The baby inside the bag was bare and smelled like he needed a change of the cattail fluff that served as his diaper. Omakayas didn't mind. She carried the baby boy with a need and happiness that the woman, so relieved to hand the baby over, could not have guessed at. Having lost her own brother, Omakayas took comfort in this baby's tiny weight and light breath. She would protect him, she promised as they walked. She would keep him company and give him all the love she had stored up but could no longer give to her little brother Neewo.

The baby peered watchfully into her eyes. Though tiny and helpless, he seemed determined to live. With a sigh he rooted for milk, for something, anything. Anxiously, Omakayas hurried toward the camp.

The angry boy with the long stick legs and frowning face sat next to Pinch by the fire. He glared up when Omakayas entered the clearing, but then his whole attention returned to the bowl of stew in his hands. He stared into it, tense as an animal. He tried without success to keep from gulping the stew too fast. His hands shook so hard that he nearly dropped the bowl at one point, but with a furious groan he righted himself and attained a forced calm. Straining to control his hunger, he lifted the bowl to his lips and took a normal portion of meat between his teeth. Chewed. Closed his eyes. When Omakayas saw from beneath one half-shut eyelid the gleam of desperation, she looked away. Not fast enough.

"What are you staring at?" the boy growled.


"Don't even bother with her," said Pinch, delighted to sense an ally with whom he might be able to torment his sister. "She's always staring at people. She's a homely owl!"

"Weweni gagigidoon," said Angeline, throwing an acorn that hit Pinch square on the forehead. She told her brother to speak with care, then commanded him, "Booni'aa, leave her alone!"


Excerpted from The Game of Silence by Louise Erdrich Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


The Complicated Life of Louise Erdrich
From the May-June 2001 issue of Book magazine.

In the past year alone, Louise Erdrich completed one novel, nearly finished another, opened a bookstore and, at forty-six, gave birth to a daughter named Azure. When Erdrich walks into her Minneapolis store, Birch Bark Books, Herbs and Native Arts, she is juggling an armful of paper and books and passing out chocolate tins with pictures of Elvis Presley and the cartoon character Pepe Le Pew on top. She adjusts Azure, who's ready to be fed. "Overdoing it is my motto," she announces. "I'm one of those overdoing-it mothers."

Motherhood isn't the only area where Erdrich overachieves. She's published nine books of fiction, two volumes of poetry, two children's books, a book of essays, and numerous short stories and poems. Her work is recognized for its complexity and for its poetic, touching, gently sarcastic, and humorous voice. Erdrich delves into how Native and European American cultures come together, clash, fall apart and, at times, figure each other out and learn to love. Showing compassion for all her characters -- no matter what their weaknesses or sins, of which they tend to have a multitude -- she often writes stories with more than one point of view. She did so masterfully in her first and best-known book, Love Medicine, and she does so -- again, masterfully -- in the new one, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. Lyrically reflective, wittily refracted, and adeptly sensual, the story centers on Agnes DeWitt, who, because of a series of passions and events, lives most of her life as Father Damien Modeste, a mission priest on an Indian reservation between 1912 and 1996. The Last Report -- the sixth in a series of Erdrich books to focus on two families in Argus, a fictional Red River Valley reservation town along the Minnesota-North Dakota border -- is as thoroughly imbued with a challenging kind of spirituality as it is graced with an intriguing story.

Rich and complex as Erdrich's writing is, her life matches it for intensity and involvement -- and she wouldn't have it any other way. "I only enjoy life if it's really complicated," she says. She exudes a calm strength, but hers is a serenity earned, likely necessitated, by a life and career visited often by controversy and tragedy.

At Birch Bark Books, Erdrich's complexity is on display. There's an oil painting, for instance, by imprisoned activist Leonard Peltier, of Ka-ishpah, a forefather of Erdrich and freedom fighter of the Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, the same band to which Erdrich (of Ojibwe and German heritage) and Peltier belong. Erdrich attended Peltier's 1977 trial for the murder of two FBI agents and is confident that "not one scintilla" of hard evidence linked Peltier to the murders. After Peltier was convicted (he's been held in Leavenworth Prison for twenty-four years), she wrote to him and they began a correspondence. In December, The New York Times published her editorial in support of Peltier while President Clinton was considering a pardon; it was not granted. On another wall is a shelf filled with books by Michael Dorris, Erdrich's former husband and writing partner. Erdrich met Dorris in 1972 when she enrolled in Dartmouth's first coed class; he was the head of the Native American Studies program. The two didn't get involved until several years after Erdrich graduated and after she'd worked as a waitress, a poetry teacher at prisons, a construction-flag signaler, an editor for the Boston Indian Council's newspaper, The Circle, and had earned a master's degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins. By then, Dorris was a father, the adoptive single parent of three Native American children who suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, an experience he described in a 1989 memoir, The Broken Cord. Erdrich and Dorris married in 1981, had three daughters, and collaborated intensely on projects, including co-authoring the 1991 novel The Crown of Columbus.

But their life together unraveled. They separated in 1995, and were planning to divorce, when allegations of criminal sexual child abuse were leveled against Dorris by some of his children. He was under investigation, but nothing was resolved. Dorris committed suicide in 1997.

After Dorris's death, Erdrich was pursued by rumor and innuendo about the couple's marriage, their separation, their family, their careers. Published next to an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that explained the allegations and details about Dorris's death -- a story for which Erdrich declined to be interviewed -- was a letter she wrote the editor. She expressed thanks to the community for its kind support, and asked that her family be granted privacy and time to grieve.

Today, Erdrich fiercely guards her privacy and that of her children. Quite simply, she states, "I'm finished talking about relationships." But her writing speaks to that which she won't; The Last Report can be seen as an extended reflection on exactly that -- relationships -- and it explores other issues central to Erdrich's life.

"I think every book is connected to a writer's psyche, but I can't say I know exactly how," Erdrich says. "It would be easy to say you were having gender issues at the same time you were writing, or a religious crisis. Certainly the task of my life has been to bring my daughters through a period of grief, but I don't think that's what the book is about entirely. It is about surviving, but I think it's about surviving yourself. The book became to me a search for a spiritual solution to the old human dilemma: Why am I me and why am I here and why is it so hard to be who I am?"

Hearing the Stories
A few years ago, Erdrich and her daughters walked by a blackened storefront window in their peaceful Minneapolis neighborhood. They started fantasizing about opening a bookstore, "complete with the bookstore cat you see in all those British movies." When the space came up for lease, Erdrich and her sister, poet Heid Erdrich, decided to start a business.

After stripping it back to its original bones -- it was originally a meat market, then a dentist's office -- they put in a stairway made from birch trees some friends in Wisconsin had found blown down on their land. Then they brought in the confessional.

Erdrich -- who claims to have a terrible addiction to rummage sales, estate sales, and anything vintage -- rescued the intricately carved Roman Catholic confessional from an architectural salvage store. Heid thought they could wire the confessional for CDs on one side and tapes on the other; their mother suggested they put books with sins in the title -- especially those about the seven deadly sins -- inside. Dream catchers dangle from the confessional's corners. A plain, framed copy of the U.S. Government's 1837 Treaty with the Chippewa hangs inside. It's a three-dimensional metaphor, raising questions about the role of the church and government in the life of Native Americans during the colonization of North America and bringing together both sides of Erdrich's ancestry. Though it serves mainly as decoration, Erdrich admits that she bought it because she "wanted to sit in the priest's box for once."

The confessional, a place of comfort and grace, is a reminder of the sanctity of stories and necessity of privacy. As a writer, Erdrich has been sitting in the priest's box for a long time. "Fiction for me is listening," she says. "It's about what I hear. I keep notes and I jot things down all the time and see what comes over the airwaves, what comes over the brain waves."

The oldest of seven children, Erdrich was born in Little Falls, Minnesota, and raised in Wahpeton, North Dakota, where her parents both taught at a Bureau of Indian Affairs school. An avid reader, she also enjoyed the record player her father purchased with green stamps. "Not only did I read Shakespeare, but I had the record of King Lear, which was fantastic. Being in North Dakota, I never actually saw a stage production, but I heard King Lear. I can still hear that record, the sound of those voices." The voices Erdrich listened to while writing Love Medicine came to her primarily as first-person confessions. The book is a multigenerational portrait of two Ojibwe families, the Kashpaws and Lamartines, set in Argus. Over the past seventeen years, those whispers have added up to five more novels about the Kashpaws and Lamartines: The Beet Queen, Tracks, The Bingo Palace, Tales of Burning Love, and, now, The Last Report. "These are the people who came and talked to me way back when," Erdrich says. "And they keep talking to me, so I have to keep writing about them. I don't have a real choice about it. It's not like I can say, 'Now, I'm finished.' Because then they come back and they have another story to tell."

She stays busy with other stories, too. Starting in 1996, for instance, she published three books in three years: Grandmother's Pigeon, a children's story, The Antelope Wife, and The Birchbark House, which her friend Mark Anthony Rolo, a playwright and the former editor of Minneapolis's Native American newspaper, The Circle, says was the result of her dream to write the Native American version of Little House on the Prairie. She illustrated the book, which became a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

"The great thing about Louise," says Rolo, a member of the Bad River Ojibwe, "is that she lives in a Native community in town. And her family is well rooted in her community back home. She is not the Jane Austen of the Native community looking out a window at the industrial plight of her people."

The First Step of The Last Report
Erdrich started writing The Last Report in 1988, originally intending it to explain how all the earlier novels came into being. She imagined the local priest in Argus, Father Damien, who had appeared as a minor character in Love Medicine, divulging all the confessions of the community to a writer, who would turn out to be Erdrich herself. It wasn't until six years and several books later that Erdrich picked up The Last Report again. The completed version chronicles the life of Father Damien. Erdrich started the book with two images: a woman in a white nightgown floating down a river on the top of a piano, and a priest taking his clothes off for bed and revealing that he is actually a woman. Turns out they became the same person.

Some of those images come directly from Erdrich's life. Though no longer a practicing Roman Catholic, she was raised in the church and still reads everything that comes her way about Catholicism. A nun taught her piano when she was a young girl; she resumed playing in her late thirties, during "a particularly difficult time" and was astonished that her fingers remembered the old pieces. Today, she calls it an incredible solace to be able to have music when she wants it. "For a time I relied upon it so much," she says. "It was enormously consoling." As for the river, growing up, Erdrich was always conscious of its moods: The nearby Red River flooded when she was a child, and again in April 1997. It devastated Grand Forks, North Dakota, that time: It reached flood stage on April 4, and the dikes overflowed on Friday, April 18; Michael Dorris died in the midst of that flood (his body was found on April 11, 1997). The Last Report, which in its early pages is visited by a flood, ends in 1997, too.

Erdrich's new book is filled with lost love, lost identities, stories in danger of being forgotten, illness and death. But at its heart, The Last Report -- lyrical and funny and mesmerizing -- is about someone who, rather than being overwhelmed by loss, survives it. Agnes, in spite of her deprivations, achieves a fantastically full life.

"Agnes really has to live through the fact that she has an amazing drive to follow what her spirit dictates. She does follow it, and it is immensely difficult," Erdrich says of her heroine. "So maybe that's what it's about. And if it's autobiographical, what can I say?" She laughs. "It's hard surviving Louise. Louise has trouble surviving Louise."

But as she finishes her next novel, she has help. It's been a few years since she's had an infant with her while she works. "I talk to Azure every morning, and I say, 'So you're going to help me write the book, right?' " Then, after she gets her older daughters ready for school, Erdrich sneaks up to her room with a cup of tea. She ties the ropes of an Ojibwe swing to her foot so she can swing Azure and write at the same time.

"Maybe when I'm eighty, I'll start being a person who will choose the less complex of the choices, and life will be manageable," Erdrich says. "But I don't do that. I have an overwhelming need to experience everything that life can possibly offer." (Karen Olson)

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Birchbark House 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great book by an an adult author made for older kids. Experience Native American life!
PatsyAdams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Grade: 3-5Genre: Historical fictionThemes: Native American, family, griefThe story tells of Omakayas, an eight-year old Anishinabe girl. it takes place through the four seasons of life for her tribe. Her family becomes infected with small pox and get very sick and her youngest brother dies. Omakayas' heart is broken and she doesn't know how to mend it. Omakayas has a special connection with the animals around and befriends a crow who becomes her constant companion. This book was unable to keep my attention. I listened to it on cd and wonder if this might have been part of my inability to focus on the story. I think it might be a good read aloud to do with third grade in their Native American unit. They would have the background information to get hooked. The teacher would have to be able to say the dialect, which might prove difficult.
bluemopitz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great book about a young American Indian girl in Minnesota in the 1800's. I enjoyed this book a lot and decided to read the two sequels as a result. It was an engaging story and it was fun to learn about the kind of lives lived by the Ojibwa through the eyes of a little girl. Could be used in curriculum about Native American life.
irisdovie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It reminded me of how natives used to live with the seasons and with nature. It also reminded me of a book called Ghost Fox by James Houston, in which a white teen is taken by Abnaki warriors. She is eventually adopted as if she were Abnaki also, and enjoys her life better than if she were in the white world. I would use this book to teach children how people used to live and depend on the seasons and nature.
marciaskidslit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Birchbark House conveys the spirit and strength of the Native American people during the mid-1840s. During this time they fought many opposing forces just to survive as a people: the white man, disease, animals, and the elements of nature. They were great hunters and resourceful people whose tribal customs, family relationships, and beliefs helped them to persevere. Birchbark House is an accurate and authentic story. Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibawa. Erdrich¿s mother and sister conducted genealogy research and found ancestors on both sides of the family who lived on the island during the story¿s timeframe. The Madeline Island Historical Society was also consulted in the research. Erdrich includes an author¿s note on the Ojibwa language as well as a glossary.
JanaRose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Birchbark House follows Omakayas (Little Frog), a member of the Ojibwa Native American tribe, through four seasons during 1847. From a smallpox epidemic that threatens her entire family to a winter of starvation, the family find time for love and adventure. Beautifully written the characters come to life through the dialogue and their interactions. Children of all ages will relate to Omakayas struggles. Overall, I highly recommend this book.
shelf-employed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Louise Erdrich¿s The Birchbark House is a tale of love, loss, and growing up, for Omakayas, a 19th century Objibwa, or Anishinabe girl living near Lake Superior. It is also a recounting of the ways of the Anishinabeg at the dawn of Western expansion. The adventures of Omakyas, her family and her people will delight middle school age readers who will identify with Omakayas and her family. Erdrich¿s The Birchbark House is a beautiful weaving of the literary and the historical, following the life of 7-year-old, Omakayas in the year 1847. The details of Omakayas¿ Anishinabeg lifestyle never interfere with the story; instead, they provide a rich backdrop providing interest as well as information. Native American cultural markers are numerous, authentic, and integral to this affecting story. Omakayas lives a life familiar to many children. She has an older sister whom she envies for her beauty and grace, a younger brother whom she despises for his selfishness and greed, and a baby brother whom she adores for his sweetness and innocence. Her mother is firm, yet loving. Her grandmother, or nokomis, is kind and wise. Her father is often away on business, trapping to provide skins for the White traders. She loathes certain of her chores, particularly the scraping of hides to make leather, she looks after her brothers. These connections render Omakayas accessible to 21st century children. It is through this connection that cultural details are channeled.Respect for elders is shown throughout the book, from a simple line regarding Grandma, ¿the dappled light of tiny new leaves moved on Grandma¿s beautiful, softly lined face,¿ to Omakayas' behavior around the strong-willed elder, Old Tallow, ¿She wished the old woman good health, and called her ¿Auntie¿ because it was a sign of affection, though Omakayas was not really sure exactly what she felt. After she¿d spoken, she stood politely, waiting.¿ A reverence for one¿s elders is consistently apparent.The Ojibwa people are portrayed realistically in Birchbark House- not always serious, not always good (especially in the case of Omakays¿ brother known as Pinch!), and not always mystical and ¿all-seeing.¿ Omakayas¿ father, Deydey has a wry sense of humor. Although dreams are taken seriously in the Anishinabe culture, he is not above poking fun at his friend¿s sillier dreams. ¿¿Last night I dreamed my head got stuck in a kettle,¿ (LaPautre) revealed his voice low and troubled. `It must have been a very big kettle¿ Deydey said, solemnly, for LaPautre had a big round head and a full moon face.¿ In another scene, Deydey again teases LaPautre for his dream about lice, while Omakayas and her sister, hiding in the brush ¿clapped hands over their mouths to stifle their glee.¿ Light hearted moments are interspersed throughout the book, as they are in life.Another trait common to Native American people is a willingness to welcome strangers. This is exemplified, though disastrously so, when Omakayas¿ people welcome a traveler with smallpox to their lodge.Birchbark House also evokes the theme of the circle or cycle, common to many Native Americans. The chapters are grouped into books, each named for one of the Anishinabe seasons. The family travels from their winter quarters where they ice fish and survive the harsh winter, to the sap harvest when the maple trees thaw, to the rice harvesting grounds, and to birchbark house where they hunt, gather berries, prepare hides, and prepare foods for winter storage. The story spans a year in Omakaya¿s life, beginning and ending at the birchbark house that her family builds anew each spring; and though the clan has suffered loss, there is also joy, the return of one lost, and the renewal of the spring season.Ojibwa, or Anishinabe words are placed throughout the story, both with English translations and with contextual clues. An author¿s note explains the Ojibwa language, and a glossary and pronunciation guide follows the story. Some words, such as the g
Jenpark on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a pretty good story. It has a feel a little like The Little House on the Prarie series, which is kind of ironic. The story was kind of slow moving in parts because it was more about character development and illustrating a way of life than about building to a climax. However, it did make me cry at least once, showing that the character development was pretty successful.
anneofia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was intrigued on finding this children's book because I remembered reading "The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse" by the same author last year. That book dealt with the Ojibwa Indian tribe, and so does this one. While not having so many social issues and subplots as the adult "Last Report," this book is well written and informative for its younger audience. It leads the readers through a year in the life of an Indian family living on an island in Lake Superior in 1847. In the summer they construct a wigwam out of birch bark, which is how the story gets it name. The bookt has some very sad parts, but on the whole is life affirming and upbeat.
jackiediorio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Omakayas has a beautiful little brother, and she loves him very much. She describes her life with him and her family, as they live in a birchbark house they make every year during the summers, and a cabin during the winter. Omakayas has many responsibilities, including many chores she dislikes, such as scraping animal hides, and she forms a bond with a pair of bear cubs.The family falls ill though, except for Omakayas, and everyone recovers except her little brother. When she is dealing with loss, her father tells her that she was adopted from an island struck by the same disease, and she was the only one to survive. Through the help of her family, and reuniting with her bear cub friends, Omakayas manages to move past her brothers' death, although she will never forget him.Unfortunately, there isn't an overwhelming amount of accurate books out there about the lives of Native Americans, so this book is a boon in that sense. The story is accurate and factual, and Omakayas is a relatable narrator, who complains about chores and annoying older siblings, just like children of today might. Unfortunately, the book does have some sad notes which may sadden readers, so it would probably be best if there was a parent or teacher around to discuss the books and the topic of loss with readers.
Sistahluck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Louise Erdrich has done the world of children's literature a great service. I read somewhere she wanted to write this series as a answer to the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Those books (favorites when I was a girl) are classics of American children's literature, but they always mentioned Native Americans in a bad light. Omakayas is an Ojibwe girl with a wonderful family, complete with spoiled little brother, and a pet raven named Andeg. She has troubles, worries, and adventures just like any young girl. Fantastic series for children of any age!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i do not like it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lindsay33 More than 1 year ago
This children's chapter book follows the life a young Ojibwa girl and main character, Omakayas, her family, and their struggles to survive through a rough and trying year. Along the way, Omakayas begins to realize that there is something about herself that she doesn't quite understand, something she strives to learn more about. On the wake of a terrible winter, Omakayas is forced to help her family and nurse them back to health when they are stricken with small pox. Readers will surely grow to love little Omakayas with her resilient ways, curious mind, and loving heart. Not only is it refreshing to follow Omakayas, but her unique and loving family as well, each one with different characteristics and personalities. Readers will find themselves happy, sad, amused, worried, and anxious while reading this tale of a family trying to make it through life, and a little girl that's determined to help and love her family to the fullest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book about the life of a young Native American girl named Omakaya. She is part of the Anishinabe tribe on Lake Superior. The story is told by Omakaya herself. She tells of the life of her family and how they faced many hardships over the course of the year along with the joyous moments they share. She tells of moving into the birchbark house at the beginning of the story and how she helped her mother tan the hide and sew the bark to build the house. She tells of the hunger they face and the disease that was brought in by a stranger one night. The joys and sorrow that the family faces when losing a loved one keeps the reader going. This is a good book to use in a classroom.
Sara_Forbing More than 1 year ago
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich, told the story of young Omakaya. Omakaya and her family are members of the Anishinabe tribe, the original name of the Ojibwa tribe. Together, her family faces many hardships over the course of a year. The book is broken down into sections by the seasons, and each section details what the family went through during that season. It begins with spring as the family prepares to move into their new birchbark home, then leads into summer as they work and prepare for the cold weather. Fall arrives and brings the harvesting of the wild rice and the move back into the log house before snow. Then winter falls upon them bringing many cold days and hardships before spring arrives with the maple-sugaring celebration. As the book progresses, readers are introduced to Omakaya's family and friends, along with the troubles and good times her family comes upon. The laughter and the sad times pull readers into the book, as they hope to read more about the lives of the Anishinabe tribe family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this emotion changing book, this book talks about the life of the Ojibwa Indians. Also, how they struggled through winter and fall.The Birch bark House is explaining the ways of how the Ojibwa tribe lived and how they struggled with small pox, in which they got it from the white men. The characters in this book are Omakayas, Andeg the crow, Neewo, Dey Dey, Nokomis, and many others along the way. Omakayas and her tribe are struggling with a sickness called small pox. This is their big problem. Omakayas and her family struggled with losses of her family members and hunger problems.Although it was sad, it was an awesome book. It¿s filled with adventures, humor, and drama. This book was like a roller coaster it¿s boring at one point then your rating goes up!If you read this book you¿ll be sad when people die, but when you read the book you¿ll have an emotion changing experience. THIS BOOK IS AWESOME!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich is a tear jerking story of love and survival that will give you another chance to appreciate wildlife. In this story the main character Omakayas has to fight for survival when a visitor comes and brings Small Pox to the village. Omakayas has to cope with the heartbreaking journey of a lost loved one, and learns an important lesson. This book is a heart warming book because it is full of adventures and excitement that will make you realize the important things about family and responsibility. So if you are looking for a good book that will touch your heart, read The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Birch bark House is the story of an Ojibwa girl named Onakayas. She learns many thnings, and survives the hardships of winter and the killing disease of small pox. This is an awesome book, and ideal for book reports. This is definatley something you should read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so cool. I love how it describes the life of the ojibiwa tribe and its people. I wish more authers would focus on the life of indians and how hard it might be sometimes to live like them. I also think it shows how hard illness'were back then.l
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Birchbark house is almost the best book but you should still read the book I would give it 4 stars out of 4 stars because this is my opinion but the book is mainly about a little girl that always wanted to babaysit her little brother Neewo that was his name because this is a native amarican book anyways its about a book where a little girl wants to babaysit her little brother and now hes getting big and the girl doesn't want to babaysit him anymore and wishes he was dead! Have fun!