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The Birchbark House
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Hyperion Books
Pub Date: 2002
ISBN: 9780786814541
Louise Erdrich
The Birchbark House
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The Birchbark House

by Louise Erdrich

Signed by the author.

The 1st book in The Birchbark House Series.

Omakayas and her family live on the land her people call the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. Although the "chimookoman," white people, encroach more and more on their land, life continues much as it always has: every summer they build 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 big sister, Angeline. But the satisfying rhythms of their life are shattered when a visitor comes to their lodge one winter night, bringing with him an invisible enemy that will change things forever-- but that will eventually lead Omakayas to discover her calling.

By turns moving and humorous, this novel is a breathtaking tour de force by a gifted writer.

Beloved by children young and old, The Birchbark House series by Louise Erdrich consists of The Birchbark HouseThe Game of SilenceThe Porcupine YearChickadee, and Makoons (with more to come!)

Comments, Opinions, Reviews
Angie commented on 21-Jan-2011 09:38 PM
Omakayas: A Strong Role Model for an Eight Year Old Girl
For the past two weeks, I have been reading aloud The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich to the kids. This has been so enjoyable for many reasons. First, I love a book that keeps me (an adult reader) totally entertained. This was the kind of book I did not want to put down. I wanted to keep going, even after the kids were in bed. But, I stopped myself. I can't read a chapter without them. I also love books that touch me so deeply that I cry while reading to them. Sometimes, I just can't help myself. Louise is a brilliant writer. She packs in so much emotion and description in this book, keeping both the adult and the children satisfied. The second reason I loved this book so much was because of it's location. This story takes place on The Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. Today, it's name is Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands of Wisconsin. It is the Island we see every Wednesday on the way to story hour. Although it is fictional history, it was well researched and it is AUTHENTIC. Written by a woman who is of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwa, she researched and gathered information and interviewed people to write about the life of an Ojibwa family living on the Island in the 1800's. Last but not least, the main character, Omakayas, is a strong role model for an eight year old girl. She is physically and spiritually strong. She is a survivor and a healer.

This is what Charlotte had to say about the character, Omakayas:
"She was very physical. She was strong, axed her own wood, kind of like me. She talked to bears, she was very nice. I liked the story because it was a lot like me. One day I played that I was Omakayas when she grew up. I pretended that I was married. I called the dad Deyde and everything. I set up fur trading. It's like you bring something and trade for another thing like buying. I made my camp and set up what they would have done. It was a happy camp and I liked it alot because it's what I like to do in the woods."

This is what Charlotte had to say about some of the seasons in the book:
"In the spring they set up a birchbark house and lived in it because it was hot in the summers. In the winters they lived in a log cabin. They sat around fires, sewing telling stories. They almost starved, there was no game, they all got the smallpox, but Omakayas didn't because she got it when she was a baby. She took care of everybody. That's when her brother passed and everyone got sick but her and Old Tallow. It was really sad. It made my mom cry like eight times. We liked it and we are reading the next book."

This was a blog post that my daughter Charlotte and I wrote together. We are homeschoolers and live in Cornucopia, Wisconsin. You can find the original at our blog,
Http:// We have finished the other two books as well. We loved them all.

Angie Tenebrini
Anonymous commented on 04-Feb-2015 07:08 PM
I love this book
Anonymous commented on 17-Jan-2017 12:46 AM
I checked this book out at the library for my 9 year old daughter, telling her that it is written by one of my favorite authors and that I thought she might enjoy it. She inhaled it and then I did, too. I cried when I read how Omakayas remembers the birds' singing that kept her alive as a baby. I realized that the land and its wild beings keep me alive, too. Sometimes I feel so lonely in our society and I can reliably find myself back in my skin when I visit a wild place in my area and check in with plants and animals there. The plants are friends that are always available. Thank you, Louise, for your brilliant storytelling and for strong Omakayas. The haunting and heartbreaking beginning of the story, the family scenes that resonated with both my daughter and I, and the ending that weaves so much significance into Omakayas' place in her family. I cried even harder when O. heard Neewo in the song of the chickadee. I will send this book to my adult friend who first introduced me to your writing 12 years ago or so. And to my 8 year old neighbor!
My daughter and I are so delighted that the Birchbark House is the first of a series! We are both story addicts and thrill when a book we love has companions! We are now reading the second book, "The Game of Silence," together. I hear her saying Ojibwe words to herself when she is doing chores around the house. And we love Andeg! Thank you so much.
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