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The Birchbark House

(Birchbark House #1)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  7,839 ratings  ·  1,259 reviews
Nineteenth-century American pioneer life was introduced to thousands of young readers by Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved Little House books. With The Birchbark House, award-winning author Louise Erdrich's first novel for young readers, this same slice of history is seen through the eyes of the spirited, 7-year-old Ojibwa girl Omakayas, or Little Frog, so named because her f ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 3rd 2002 by Hyperion Books for Children (first published July 21st 1999)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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 ·  7,839 ratings  ·  1,259 reviews

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Aug 12, 2016 added it
Shelves: read-in-2016
The stark differences between actual self-sufficient people and "Little House" self-sufficient is noteworthy, as are the roles women played.

Absolutely necessary reading alongside the Wilder books. And, perhaps, far more interesting.
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Thank you a million times over to the Children's Books group because I’d tried to read this book some time back, got about ¼ or so the way through it, and put it down because I didn’t enjoy the writing style. Because it’s one of the books chosen as a group read for this book, and because I know a couple of people who love this book, I decided to again try to read it. I’m so grateful that I took this new opportunity.

I have such a difficult time with this author’s writing style. Many readers love
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Did not finish. I started this as a read aloud and my daughter didn't enjoy this so continued reading to myself but found I couldn't get to know the characters and was enjoying the hunting element of this book. I did expect a book about a native American family to have some detail of this kind but certainly for the first third of the book this was the main content. I was dissapointed there was virtually no details of gathering, berry picking is briefly mentioned but leads straight to an incident ...more
Book Concierge
Book on CD narrated by Nicolle Littrell

What Laura Ingalls Wilder did for the pioneer families in 19th century plains states, Erdrich has done for the Native Americans in this same time period.

Omakayas is a seven-year-old Ojibwa girl living in Wisconsin. She is the sole survivor of a small pox epidemic when she’s taken into another family as an infant. Tallow is a strong matriarch and Omakayas (also called Little Frog), thrives in the community on Lake Superior’s Madeline Island, also known as t
Abby Johnson
Why did it take me so long to pick up this book?!

It's the story of Omakayas, an Ojibwe girl growing up in the mid-1800s. The book is loosely plotted and takes you through a year in her life. I especially liked the bits that explain how Omakayas's community does things like make their houses, create their food cache, etc. In that way, it's very like Little House on the Prairie and kids who are interested in How They Did Things Way Back Then will eat this up for sure.

The story has more emotion t
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this aloud with my 10 year old and asked her for her rating. She said the first half was a 4 star but the second half was only 1.5 stars.

I frequently see people recommending this book for very young children. I can't understand that. The writing is beautiful, and I enjoyed the story. But oh my's so sad. I would NOT recommend this to a child younger than 10. My 10 year old found it devastating, hence the low rating.
Jessica Woodbury
When we started this book, I wasn't sure if the kids would go with it. A lot of the books we read are pretty action-packed, which helps since we only read 10-15 pages or so a night. But they settled right in even though the first half of the book is not really about plot at all, just letting you live the daily life of Omakayas and her family.

By the second half of the book I no longer encountered the usual "can we skip reading tonight?" questions I get every few nights, we burned through it, eve
So, not only can Louise Erdrich write excellent adult fiction, but she is also a master at children's stories.

This book would be a perfect way for young readers to branch out and explore different cultures, as well as different time periods. The book focuses mainly on Omakayas (Oh-MAH-kay-as) and her life and the customs of an Oijbwa tribe. I loved Omakayas--she was such a great protagonist. She's smart beyond her years, but she's also just a normal kid, and that makes her relatable to her read
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Melody by: A Bevy of Burtons
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jonathan Peto
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memory-lane
Just read in the Horn Book magazine that a fifth title in this series (Birchbark House) is coming out. I read this one, the first one, aloud to a class years ago. I remember it began slowly, like some other reviewers note. I remember worrying that the class would mutiny, but they didn't. When we finished it, I prodded them to disparage it but they defended the book heatedly. (The class was all girls. Maybe boys would feel differently…?) ...more
Madeleine (Top Shelf Text)
The Diverse Books Club has selected The Birchbark House for the theme of Indigenous Perspectives in November this year. I previewed this title during our selection process and loved it. I would recommend it for middle grade readers who enjoy historical fiction, and for those who are curious to learn more about indigenous cultures. Louise Erdrich is an own voices author -- meaning that she belongs to the tribe that she writes about, and her insights combined with her talented prose make for a gre ...more
Feb 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a gorgeous book - a year in the life of Omakayas, a young Ojibwe girl who lives at the edge of Lake Superior in 1847. The book weaves together a dozen different strands of narrative - Omakayas' family responsibilities and affections; her work as young woman; the subsistence patterns of her community; the effect of trade and sickness on the Ojibwe; the potential for treaties and removal by the Americans; the world of medicine, and of spirits; the presence of missionaries and their schooli ...more
Lara Maynard
3.5 stars. A sort of framed story with quite a lot of trying to set the scene but not always compellingly so content in the middle. My favourite character was the crow. Though the animal in novels is often my favourite character.

This was okay and the first of Erdrich's children's books that I've read. But it reminded me that I need to read more of her adult fiction, of which The Plague of Doves is my favourite so far.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought it was a great book, with some good plot twists. In the beginning there could have been more happening, but it was a good book overall.
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children, read-aloud
This book is the perfect companion to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. After reading
the first two Wilder novels with my 5 year old, it was obvious that Native American experiences were underrepresented. To my chagrin, my son was even a little scared of the Indians in those books. Erdrich's first novel for young people, written in the early 21st century, parallels Wilder's stories in many ways. Just as with Wilder, Erdrich provides historical information on survival and family dynamics
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Omakayas, is a seven year old Ojibwa girl and we follow her and her adopted family for four seasons in 1847 and this includes a smallpox outbreak, which decimated the tribe. This is a wonderful day to day, look at Native Americans living on an island in Lake Superior and it is fun to follow Omakayas on her various adventures, along with her pet crow Andeg. This is Erdrich's first young reader novel and a perfect companion to the Little House books. ...more
Shawna (SugoiShawn/SugoiReads)
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Trigger warnings: suicidal attempt and self harm

I read this book for my children and teen literature class. It was beautiful yet also incredibly sad at the same time.
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Readers Who Enjoy Historical Fiction
I originally read The Birchbark House - Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) author Louise Erdrich's first foray into the world of children's fiction - when it was just published in 1999, but had been meaning to reread it for some time, in order to move on to the sequels ( The Game of Silence and The Porcupine Year ), when it was chosen as our September selection over in the Children's Fiction Club to which I belong. How glad I am that it was, as I enjoyed this reading just as much as the first!

The story
Kris - My Novelesque Life

Thank you to Audible, for allowing readers to listen to audiobooks for children/teens (during the Covid-19 social distancing). I have been meaning to read this novel for awhile. I requested Makoons to read, and realized that it was actually fifth in a series. My library just had the physical copy available but it wasn't in the greatest condition. To put Audible's deals on my Insta story, I went to see what they had before I actually posted it. When I saw this I started to listen r
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-audio
Beautifully written and narrated. I really enjoyed the presentation of the story. Although the hardships of life and horror of smallpox was presented, it also emphasized the love and humor of the people towards one another.
Omakayas, the protagonist of The Birchbark House, is a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe. Since the story is set on an island in Lake Superior in 1847 and mostly consists of a detailed account of the traditional Ojibwa life, it serves as a counter narrative to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series.

However, I wish I liked The Birchbark House more. The first two-thirds of the story were slow-paced and rather dull, and Louise Erdrich’s writing seemed a little bit too chil
After the message of pioneers fearing native Americans in Little House on the Prairie, I decided we needed to listen to a book told from the other side of the story. The author's father is German American and mother is half Ojibwe and half French American, so she grew up experiencing and hearing about her native American heritage. The Birchbark House is a fictional work which takes place slightly earlier in American history than the Little House series when native Americans were still largely ab ...more
Amanda H
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kaytee Cobb
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The person who told me about this described it as "little house, but from the Native Perspective", and for that reason, I really enjoyed it. ...more
Alex  Baugh
The Birchbark House begins with a rather grim prologue that describes a baby girl crawling around the bodies of her family and crying while a group of men stand watching her on the shoreline of a small Lake Superior island. Knowing sickness has claimed the lives of everyone on the island except this little girl, the men get back into their canoes and leave, afraid and sure the baby will soon die of the same sickness as her family. One of the men decides to tells his wife about the baby, sure tha ...more
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this one aloud to my fourth graders. It was great, we all cried.
May 17, 2021 added it
This book was a very sad, alarming, interesting and unusual book but I enjoyed reading about Omakayas's story. ...more
Eden Williams
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved this book! It's about a Native American girl named Omakayas, which means Little Frog, and her family. For a while things go on as usual until a deadly enemy visits their lodge. Will Omakayas be able to save her family before it's too late? Will they survive?

Overall, this book was great. The first half was kind of slow, but I really enjoyed learning about their daily life. The second half was even better and really exciting. Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot and I definitely recommend it
Chris  Ibert
Nov 02, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a beautifully written book about Native American life in the time of Westward Expansion. It focuses on the Ojibwe tribe, located on an island in Lake Superior. It gives the reader a very clear picture of day-to-day life in the tribe, with the center of the story being one family in particular. As it is written for adolescent readers, or even a little younger, it describes their life through the eyes of an 8 year old girl and the author captures her innocence authentically. At times in th ...more
Benjamin Thomas
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a story that covers a year in the life of Omakayas, a young Ojibwe girl who lives at the edge of Lake Superior in 1847. It reminds me a lot of the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder in that it is a young girl’s perspective on everyday life and especially the interactions with her family. Life can be fun as well as challenging and even occasionally catastrophic. She also interacts with animals, most especially a crow that becomes a sort of pet. While definitely written for young ...more
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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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Birchbark House (5 books)
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“Where was I?"
"A different island," said old Tallow. Her voice was stern, but there was an ache in her look that Omakayas had never before seen. "An island called Spirit Island where everyone but you died of the itching sickness- you were the toughest one, the littlest one, and you survived them all."

"You were sent here so you could save the others," she said. "Because you'd had the sickness, you were strong enough to nurse them through it. They did a good thing when they took you in, and you saved them for their good act. Now the circle that began when I found you is complete.”
“Why were they talking all at once?" Omakayas wondered.

Nokomis thought for a while. "I think they talk to each other all the time," she said, "but our minds are not always peaceful enough to hear them.”
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