March 22, 2017

The Birchbark House

Long ago, in a very different America than we know now, there lived a group of people. These people were not the Spanish traders that came in 1492-1832, they were not the colonists who came with Captain John Smith to enlarge England's territory in 1608, nor were they the Pilgrims who came in 1620, attempting to escape religious persecution. The people of which I speak were the Ojibwa Indians, a people group that has long since ceased to exist. But they are not forgotten in this book, the first of a series by Louise Erdrich. The author brings the life of a young Ojibwa girl to life. I believe everyone will enjoy The Birchbark House, although I do suggest that parents of smaller children pre-read this book before allowing their children to do so, because there are some very sad and somewhat shocking chapters, as well as some instances of spirit worship.

Omakayas (Oh-MAH-kEY-aynz), loves springtime; this was the time that everything came back to life after the oppressive winter. The flowers bloomed, the birds sang, the creek laughed at her as it bubbled and tripped over the rocks along its merry way. And best of all, the family moved back into the summer house. Every year, Omakayas rejoiced when it was time to move; carrying pots and cookware to the cabin, rolling out the bed mats, even setting up the dreaded hide tanning rack was joyous, for it meant that the family was home. True, it was spring and the beginning of the year, Omakayas's favorite season. But little did she know how much this one year would change her as a person. Was she strong enough, brave enough, smart enough to face what was coming?

An excellent book by Louise Erdrich, though younger children may be bored, as it spends a good amount of time explaining very small details. I found that this drew me into the story, so much so that I felt connected to the characters. A wonderful book and a great start to what is sure to be an excellent series.


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