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The Porcupine Year (The Birchbark House #3)

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  581 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews

Here follows the story of a most extraordinary year in the life of an Ojibwe family and of a girl named "Omakayas," or Little Frog, who lived a year of flight and adventure, pain and joy, in 1852.

When Omakayas is twelve winters old, she and her family set off on a harrowing journey. They travel by canoe westward from the shores of Lake Superior along the rivers of north
Hardcover, 182 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by HarperCollins (first published 2008)
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The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsSavvy by Ingrid LawThe Graveyard Book by Neil GaimanThe Underneath by Kathi AppeltThe Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
2009 Newbery Contenders
24th out of 68 books — 599 voters
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieBeyond Oria Falls by Sheryl SealLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichCeremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Native American Fiction
93rd out of 588 books — 543 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,508)
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Jul 03, 2008 Betsy rated it it was amazing
Louise Erdrich writes The Birchbark House. It becomes a National Book Award Finalist. No surprises there. Louise Erdrich writes The Game of Silence. It does slightly better than its predecessor and wins the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Very good, but still not surprising. Now the third book in Erdrich’s "Birchbark House books” (surely there’s a better name for them, right?) is present and accounted for. The Porcupine Year picks up where the last book left off without a glitch, hi ...more
The Porcupine Year is the third book in the Birchbark House series about the protagonist, Omakayas by Louise Eldrich. 12 year old Omakayas is an Ojibwe girl in 1852 America. This book is a heartwarming story that chronicles the struggles of Omakayas and her family as they search for a new safe place to live after being removed from their home by the United States government.

The story catches you from the beginning with banter between Omakayas and her brother Pinch. The banter soon turns to surv
L- Lisa
Jan 30, 2010 L- Lisa rated it it was amazing
The story unfolds with twelve year old Omakayas, an Ojibwe girl living in the mid 1800’s, hunting for food with her younger brother, Pinch. The children literally run into a porcupine who becomes the medicine animal for her brother then taking on the name Quill. This narrative flows beautifully as the reader experiences life of Native Americans, traveling to find new homes to settle as the United States government pushes them on. Through the eyes of Omakayas, we relate to this journey of hardshi ...more
Eva Mitnick
Jan 17, 2009 Eva Mitnick rated it really liked it

Louise Erdrich has always struck me as being a particularly warm and accessible writer, for whom humor is never far away and who can write about tragic events with a poignancy that never veers into pathos.

The Porcupine Year is the third – but not the last – in the series about an Ojibwe girl named Omakayas and her close-knit extended family. The Porcupine Year relates the events of the year 1852, during which the family is uprooted from their beloved home next to Lake Superior in Minnesota all
Jun 09, 2009 Carolynne rated it it was amazing
This is third in a series that began with The Birchbark House. In this book Omakayas, an Ojibwe, is a teenager, and struggles with what that means in her life, as she helps her family move from their beloved island, because of increasing white settlements. Their lives are challenged by a more difficult winter than some, and by the shameful betrayal by their Auntie Muskrat's husband. This is a very engaging book, in which Omakaya's relationship with her family (especially her rascally little brot ...more
this is a heart-wrenching story set in the mid 1800’s is of a twelve-year-old, Omakayas, an Ojibwe, Native American, girl who is hunting for food, freedom and maturity with her younger brother Pinch and her extended family. Omakayas’ and her family are pushed out of their homes by white men who are looking to settle on their land. This book follows Omakayas’ for one year of her life as she travels north to find a new home. Her brother, Pinch, and her are separated from their family during a nigh ...more
Michelle (tinyturtle88)
Nov 23, 2014 Michelle (tinyturtle88) rated it really liked it
more later
Feb 19, 2014 Brenna rated it it was amazing
I bought the first book in this series for my 10 year old daughter. One day she left it in the bathroom and I happened to pick it up. Once in hand, I could scarcely put it back down. I loved how true-to-life these stories are. Unlike many children's books about Native American life, the author doesn't portray it as one long camping trip. She doesn't tiptoe around the hardships they encountered. As much as I don't want to ache and cry over the ordeals they suffered, the realism of this story is p ...more
Monica Edinger
Nov 07, 2008 Monica Edinger rated it it was amazing
Engrossing. Builds slowly and beautifully. As elegantly written as the previous book.
Jan 18, 2009 GraceAnne rated it it was amazing
Darker, sadder, and even more beautiful than the first two in this gorgeous series.
Gr 5-8-This sequel to The Birchbark House (Hyperion, 1999) and The Game of Silence (HarperCollins, 2005) continues the story of Omakayas, an Ojibwe girl who in 1852 is now 12 winters old. She and her family have been displaced by the United States government and are looking for a new place to live. When Omakayas and her younger brother become separated from their family during a night hunting expedition, Pinch has a run-in with a porcupine that he decides to keep as his medicine animal. The litt ...more
Elizabeth K.
Jun 28, 2009 Elizabeth K. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009-new-reads
Lovely, lovely story about an Ojibwe family living in the mid-19th century who are migrating westward as American settlers are slowing encroaching on traditional native lands. This is the third in a series. They're compared a lot to the Little House books, and there is something satisfying about seeing roughly the same era from the point of view of Native people. The illustrations even have a Garth Williams feel to them. Most of the action is from the view of 12 year old Omakayas, and includes f ...more
Dec 21, 2014 Charli rated it really liked it
SLJ review:

Gr 5-8-A Native American family makes the arduous journey from Wisconsin to Minnesota in search of a new home after being displaced by the U.S. government in 1852 in Louis Erdrich's sequel (HarperCollins, 2008) to Birchbark House (Hyperion, 1999) and The Game of Silence (HarperCollins, 2005). Omakayas, the only survivor of a smallpox outbreak, was adopted into an Ojibwa family. The journey is difficult and dangerous, and Omakayas matures and discovers the power of storytelling and her
May 03, 2011 kari rated it it was amazing
This book has more action that the previous two in this series and I liked that, even though I did like the gentleness of the first two as well.
Omakayas and her family have been forced to leave their home and this book is all about what happens on their travels, both the good and the bad.
I enjoy the writing of this series a great deal. It is very vivid and the descriptions are lovely while not being overdone. I like to know how things look or feel, but don't need page after page of a
Kate Winkler
Nov 02, 2010 Kate Winkler rated it it was ok
This book did not interest me at all. It was boring and did not grab my attention. It reminded me of a book that I would dread reading in middle school. As a future teacher I want to be sure to choose books that I feel will interest my students. My goal is to engage them in reading and keep them interested in it. This book would not be at the top of my lists when choosing books for my students.
I tend to have an interest in books that I can relate to and this might be a reason why this book did
Oct 31, 2010 Connie rated it it was ok
This book was really boring! I think young adults would have trouble keeping interest in this book. I think it tells a good story—the natives being pushed off their land by the whites. However, the way it was written was just boring and uninteresting. I could not pay attention to it. I found myself rereading a lot of the passages. It definitely didn’t connect with me.

With that said, I did not hate the book. It wasn’t pleasurable to read and I wouldn’t read it again. However, I do respect the imp
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by LadyJay for

Omakayas, or Little Frog, is now twelve winters old. Her family, members of the Ojibwe tribe, have been forced from their homes on the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker, and are now making the long journey to Lac Du Bois, where members of her extended family are living.

Omakayas and her family face many hardships throughout their journey. Omakayas and her brother, Quill, are almost killed in the rushing waters of a swollen river; their provisions fo
Shanae Nicholson
Dec 01, 2013 Shanae Nicholson rated it really liked it
I liked this book, it was great. This story is extremely rich in cultural details; with the use of language and cultural practices like making houses and canoes. Erdrich also provides an in depth treatment of cultural issues; it describes the hardships Native American families and tribes had to endure as European settlers come to the United States by in cooperating the tradition Native American culture. This book allows for reflection and discussion about the inequalities and unfair treatment th ...more
Parry Rigney
Feb 16, 2010 Parry Rigney rated it it was amazing
The Porcupine Year is the sequel to Louise Erdrich's The Birchbark House and The Game of Silence. I know I would have loved these books as a child, and I love them now.

The stories follow the lives of Omakayas, a young Ojibwe girl, and her family, in the mid 19th century. What I enjoy most about these stories are the memorable characters I feel I've come to know and love. I also enjoyed reading about the details of the family's everyday life.

While the books are often very funny, and describe many
Apr 23, 2009 Jess rated it really liked it
Okay, I'll confess - I put off reading this series because it sounded boring. It sounded earnest and dull. I picked up a copy of the first book, The Birchbark House and it's been sitting on my shelf, unread, for ages. Something else always sounded more enticing. But when The Porcupine Year showed up in School Library Journal's Battle of the Books, I picked it up. And I'm glad I did.

It's always an interesting experiment to jump into a series in midstream - this is the third book, and I believe E
Nov 20, 2008 Wendy rated it really liked it
Recommended to Wendy by: Heavy Medal blog
A great book! I think it's the best published-in-2008 book I've read; it's absorbing, funny, sad, exciting. The book reminds me of Little House in the Big Woods or On the Banks of Plum Creek, in the way it combines detailed descriptions of daily life and tasks, family incidents, and a young girl's thoughts. (Oh. I see I'm far from the first to make this comparison.)

It's interesting to contrast this with The Underneath, which I just read recently; some of the incidents are just as shocking and sa
Jul 06, 2015 Sara rated it really liked it
The third installment of The Birchbark House series, by Louise Erdrich is another wonderful adventure. Readers are taken to 1852, living through the lens of now 12-year old Omakayas. As her family journeys in search of a new home, Omakayas continues to learn the land and what it is like to be a young lady within the Anishinaabe culture. Known as the porcupine year, the family endures a harsh winter, tragedy as well as happiness, hope and perhaps, love?
Little Kid Reaction: Review pending.

Big Kid Reaction: The story is poignant, funny, and at times heart wrenching. I found myself frustrated with trying to pronounce the Native American words and sometimes re-reading a passage from an earlier chapter trying to find details I seemed to miss. The Porcupine Year is part of a series, and while it can be read on its own, I think it would have been more enjoyable if I had read The Birchbark House first.

Pros: Plenty of adventure and endearing characte
May 27, 2014 spoko rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, fiction, kids
A beautiful, engrossing coming-of-age story, which casually treads the line between myth and realism. Omakayas and her family are each interesting, unpredictable, and worth spending time with.

My 9-year-old daughter loves this book. I just listened to it with my 11-year-old son, and we enjoyed it quite a bit also. I hadn't realized until now that it was part of a series; I'll definitely seek out the others.
Dec 12, 2008 Laurie added it
Recommended to Laurie by: Wendy
Shelves: wmslibrary
I may re-read The Birchbark House, because Wendy says Porcupine is much better but I didn't like it as much as I remember liking Birchbark. Both books have some very sad moments, and the part in Porcupine where the family is accosted was so painful to read. I liked the humorousness of the brother and his pet, and the brother/sister interplay.

While the multigenerational family makes a great cast of characters, I felt Erdrich could have done more to identify and differentiate between them. That di
Adeline S.
A good conclusion to The Birchbark House series, "The Porcupine Year" shows the main character,Omakayas, growing up in a world full of hostile people who want to destroy her relatively peaceful culture. Besides some sexist comments and grammar errors, along with some redundancy, this book is a wonderful and thoughful conclusion to Omakayas' childhood.
Jun 10, 2009 Jan marked it as to-read
Recommended by Carolynne Lathrop:

"This is third in a series that began with The Birchbark House. In this book Omakayas, an Ojibwe, is a teenager, and struggles with what that means in her life, as she helps her family move from their beloved island, because of increasing white settlements. Their lives are challenged by a more difficult winter than some, and by the shameful betrayal by their Auntie Muskrat's husband. This is a very engaging book, in which Omakaya's relationship with her family (e
Jun 08, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: vero
I really liked it! The characters were fun and engaging, and all had small quirks unique to them. The plot follows Omakayas, and I liked that Louise Erdrich included her relationships with the other characters. However, I couldn't find the first books, so I was confused in some parts of the book. :( Recommended for all ages!
Leslie Patten
Nov 27, 2014 Leslie Patten rated it liked it
I've been perusing young adult books about the natural world. Although there were a lot of interesting insights into the lives of the Ojibwe in 1852, the story line wasn't interesting enough to keep my attention. Erdrich is an award winning author. This is the first of her books I've read. I'd like to read a few more, especially The BirchBark House which is the first in this series.
Apr 12, 2016 Sawy-o rated it really liked it
Great historical fiction for elementary schoolers about Native American life- interesting characters and events. One thing- what's up with the shaming of the character Two Strike for not being "feminine" enough- this seemed excessive and needlessly included to create the intrigue of a love triangle
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Karen Louise Erdrich is a American author of novels, poetry, and children's books. Her father is German American and mother is half Ojibwe and half French American. She is an enrolled member of the Anishinaabe nation (also known as Chippewa). She is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant Native writers of the second wave of what critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renais ...more
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Other Books in the Series

The Birchbark House (5 books)
  • The Birchbark House
  • The Game of Silence
  • Chickadee
  • Makoons

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