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The Birchbark House Paperback – May 13, 2002
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[In this] story of a young Ojibwa girl, Omakayas, living on an island in Lake Superior around 1847, Louise Erdrich is reversing the narrative perspective used in most children's stories about nineteenth-century Native Americans. Instead of looking out at 'them' as dangers or curiosities, Erdrich, drawing on her family's history, wants to tell about 'us', from the inside. The Birchbark House establishes its own ground, in the vicinity of Laura Ingalls Wilder's 'Little House' books. --The New York Times Book Review
- Format: Paperback
- Publication Date: 5/13/2002
- Pages: 256
- Reading Level: Age 9 and Up
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*Side note, I would pre-read this book if you have sensitive children (mine are). While I can read the whole book to them, there are parts that talk about a ghost as being told to the children in the book. That being said it would be easy to skip over that section if you need to and not miss the rest of the story.
This is funny, because of the trouble Pinch, Omakayas’ little brother, gets into. He leans too close to the his pants become on fire so he sits in the water bucket and then can’t get out of it. Another funny time is when Andeg, the crow, says, “Gaygo, Pinch!” which means stop, because Pinch is pulling Andeg’s tail feathers.
This book is wonderful and a must read because of the characters, the plot and the mystery
One thing to be aware of is that this story deals with grief. At points it was almost too much for my young daughter, but since I was reading it to her I was able to edit out a few of the more intense passages and discuss it with her as we went along.
Through the eyes of Omakayas, we are taken on a journey through a year in her family's life. The author makes a point to include many words from the Ojibwa native language, originally a spoken language, to bring the reader closer to the daily life of this family. The author paints a verbal picture of this part of Minnesota, from it's wildlife to it's people. It is not until later in the story, after the reader is well-acquainted with the family, that we learn the year is 1847. This is a time very significant in our Native-American and American history, and Ms. Erdrich cleverly draws the reader in. While it is clear that this is a time of transition for Native-Americans, and that they have their suspicions of the white settlers, the author tells the story without taking sides. Clearly, the focus is the family, their village, and how changing circumstances are beginning to alter the way of life of the American natives.
Ultimately, there are sad moments, as with any family. It is that the story is so engrossing, and heartfelt that my daughter claims as reason for her resistance with wanting to continue to read. But, not only does she continue to read, she notices details that even I miss. That is the beauty of sharing this book with my daughter. We had some great discussions about the family, and Omakayas' way of life in vast contrast to our own.
My daughter insists on rating the book a solid 4 stars, because it made her feel too much. As for me, I give it 5 stars, so together that's a solid 4.5 in my book. Ain't reading grand!