Birchbark House
by Erdrich, Louise

The Girl from Spirit Island1(5)
NEEBIN (Summer)
The Birchbark House
Old Tallow
The Return
Deydey's Ghost Story
Fishtail's Pipe
The Move
First Snow
BIBOON (Winter)
The Blue Ferns
Grandma's Story:Fishing the Dark Side of the Lake
The Visitor
Nanabozho and Muskrat Make An Earth
ZEEGWUN (Spring)
Maple Sugar Time
One Horn's Protection
Full Circle
Note on the Ojibwa language240(1)
Glossary and pronounciation guide of Ojibwa terms241

Chronicles the experiences of an Ojibwa girl and her family as they live their lives quietly on an island in Lake Superior in 1847, until the white man comes and begins moving her entire tribe off their land.

%% This is a multi-book review. SEE the title "No Man's Land" for next imprint and review text. %%Gr. 4^-8. Why has no one written this story before? Why are there so few good children's books about the people displaced by the little house in the big woods? In the first of a cycle of novels set at the time of the Laura Ingalls Wilder classics, Erdrich makes us imagine what it was like for an Ojibwa Indian child when the chimookoman (non-Indian white people) were opening up the land.Omakayas is eight years old in 1847, living on an island in Lake Superior. The technical detail may be too much for readers who want more action-there's a lot about what the Ojibwa ate on the island through the seasons, how they grew it and gathered it and cooked it, what they wore and how they made it, how they built the birchbark house, step by step-but Little House fans will enjoy that. And Erdrich is not reverential about the work: Omakayas is bored with the endless scraping and rubbing of hides; what she loves are the yearly traditions, such as the maple sugaring in the spring, the storytelling in the winter night. The characters are wonderfully individualized, humane and funny: Omakayas is jealous of her beautiful, older sister, impatient with her obnoxious brother, fiercely attached to her baby brother, excited and also tense when her half-French father is home from his work in the fur trade. She has a special bond with Old Tallow, a rugged, solitary, bear-hunting woman who is afraid of nothing. Erdrich's occasional small, detailed portraits (many resemble her) are drawn from photographs; they express the warm dailiness of Omakayas' world.There is a real plot from the very first devastating paragraph: "The only person left alive on the island was a baby girl . . . Smallpox had killed them all." Who is the baby girl? The mystery comes full circle at the end of the book. The whites are on the edge of the story, but they are there, pushing closer, more of them on the island every day, wanting the Ojibwa to leave. Then, just casually, quietly, in the middle of a paragraph in a middle chapter called "The Visitor," a thin, feverish French voyageur comes to spend the night in the village. He dies of smallpox. In the subsequent epidemic Omakayas loses her beloved baby brother and her best friend. The sorrow nearly overcomes her.Little House readers will discover a new world, a different version of a story they thought they knew. ((Reviewed April 1, 1999)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

With this volume, Erdrich (Grandmother's Pigeon, 1996, etc.) launches her cycle of novels about a 19th-century Ojibwa family, covering in vivid detail their everyday life as they move through the seasons of one year on an island on Lake Superior. A baby girl crawls among the bodies of her family, dead from smallpox. After that stinging beginning, an unexpectedly enjoyable story follows, replete with believable characterizations, humor, family love, and misadventures. Omakayas, now seven, adores baby brother Neewo, detests rambunctious five-year-old brother Pinch, and worships her beautiful teenage sister, Angeline. Omakayas works and plays through the summer and fall, learning the ways of her people; she has a frightful adventure with bears and adopts a young raven as a pet. But in winter smallpox again affects her life: Neewo dies, and Angeline is scarred for life. Omakayas cannot find her way back to happiness until an odd old woman tells her the truth of her past, in a novel that is by turns charming, suspenseful, and funny, and always bursting with life. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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