by Louise Erdrich

I've just sent in the manuscript for the next book in The Birchbark House series. Title: Chickadee. I am still working on the art and drawing horses at last because my family (Omakayas, the twins Makoons and Chickadee, Animikiins, and all of the others) have moved onto the Great Plains. I realized that for the sake of this book series we had to move there around 1866. This is a fascinating year for all sorts of reasons, but for the main character, Chickadee, it is a year of unusual adventure. Some odd things happen to Chickadee. He challenges a man named Skunk. He is kidnapped by two brutish louts who want a servant. He learns to cook a wretched concoction called bouyah. Chickadee runs away from well meaning but heartless missionaries. He learns to survive completely alone in the woods helped by his namesake, the chickadee, who teaches him a song that can heal. There is lots more, including a visit to Saint Paul, the first city he has ever seen, and composed at the time of shacks, pubs, treeless mansions, and lots of trading companies. This book has been on my mind for a long time, and during this endless winter I've finally had time to compose it -- so at last. As I mentioned, I am still working on the drawings. I take photographs of my family and use them in the compositions. I draw objects from my collections. I make people up. All in all, this is a pretty good job to have. I recommend it for those who like to live in their pajamas.