Book Concierge's Reviews > The Birchbark House

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
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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 Michigan. 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 the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. The book follows Omakayas, her family and the tribe through four seasons of 1847.

I was fascinated by this story of the life of the Native Americans during this time period. I learned about the hard work of tanning hides, the craft of decorating special garments with intricate beadwork, the cycles of hunting and gathering, and the dangers (and joys) of living so close to nature.

Omakayas is a wonderful narrator – inquisitive, observant, intelligent, and compassionate. She’s also a typical seven year old – sometimes a little naughty, and not always understanding the reasons why she is asked to perform certain tasks, or forbidden from other adventures. I can see why this is sometimes taught in social studies classes for middle-grade students.

Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwa, and she spoke to various Ojibwa elders about the significance of Madeline Island. Events depicted are historically accurate (including a documented small pox epidemic). The text version includes Erdrich’s pencil drawing illustrations.

Nicolle Littrell does a fine job performing the audio version. She has good pacing and the book is clearly understandable for even younger readers.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
December 19, 2017 – Finished Reading
December 29, 2017 – Shelved
December 29, 2017 – Shelved as: audio
December 29, 2017 – Shelved as: children-s-literature
December 29, 2017 – Shelved as: concierge
December 29, 2017 – Shelved as: culture
December 29, 2017 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
December 29, 2017 – Shelved as: library
December 29, 2017 – Shelved as: native-american
December 29, 2017 – Shelved as: social-commentary

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