This is one of those children's books with a magical, tender quality that seizes the imagination. It is the first children's book, and the first in a cycle of novels, by the distinguished novelist Louise Erdrich, who draws on her own family history to evoke the lives of Native Americans forced from their ancestral lands. It is the story of a ...
This is one of those children's books with a magical, tender quality that seizes the imagination. It is the first children's book, and the first in a cycle of novels, by the distinguished novelist Louise Erdrich, who draws on her own family history to evoke the lives of Native Americans forced from their ancestral lands. It is the story of a little girl, Omakayas, who lives with her family on an island in Lake Superior in the 1840s. It is the story of a loving family of adults and children, and the tribulations and joys they experience, in the course of a year that sees the decimation of the tribe by the white man's disease, smallpox. Omakayas herself, with her affinity for animals - she has a pet crow, and makes friends with the bears - is a wonderful character who learns only at the end who she really is, and what her role in the tribe will be. The detail of daily life among the Ojibwa, so close to the land and to animals, is beautifully described and the characters are realized with a delightful warmth - not just Omakayas but the new baby she adores, her annoying little brother Pinch, the strange, tough, masculine Auntie, and the grandmother with her healing powers. It is an immensely charming and moving book on a subject that is always fascinating to young readers.
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Publishers Weekly, 1999-05-31 Erdrich's (Grandmother's Pigeon) debut novel for children is the first in a projected cycle of books centering on an Ojibwa family on an island in Lake Superior. Opening in the summer of 1847, the story follows the family, in a third-person narrative, through four seasons; it focuses on young Omakayas, who turns "eight winters old" during the course of the novel. In fascinating, nearly step-by-step details, the author describes how they build a summer home out of birchbark, gather with extended family to harvest rice in the autumn, treat an attack of smallpox during the winter and make maple syrup in the spring to stock their own larder and to sell to others. Against the backdrop of Ojibwa cultural traditions, Omakayas also conveys the universal experiences of childhood?a love of the outdoors, a reluctance to do chores, devotion to a pet?as well as her ability to cope with the seemingly unbearable losses of the winter. The author hints at Omakayas's unusual background and her calling as a healer, as well as the imminent dangers of the "chimookoman" or white people, setting the stage for future episodes. Into her lyrical narrative, Erdrich weaves numerous Ojibwa words, effectively placing them in context to convey their meanings. Readers will want to follow this family for many seasons to come. Ages 9-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2006-08-28 PW said, "Like its sequel, The Birchbark House, this meticulously researched novel offers an even balance of joyful and sorrowful moments while conveying a perspective of America's past that is rarely found in history books." Ages 8-12. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2005-08-01 In the sequel to Erdrich's novel The Birchbark House, about the Ojibwe Indians, Fields reads at an often leisurely pace in a deep, calm voice-a good match for the tone of the text, but not a great choice for an engaging listen. The author picks up the story of Omakayas, now nine years old, as her tribe faces government expulsion from their island settlement on Lake Superior in 1849. When she's not fighting with her pesky brother Pinch, helping her mother, or gleaning advice from mentor Old Tallow, Omakayas starts to discover more about her talent for reading dreams. But no one can really know what the future-and the move west-will hold. Fields admirably masters Ojibwe names and vocabulary, but this recording's appeal lies with true fans of the material. Ages 8-12. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2002-08-05 The author's first novel for children centers on young Omakayas and her Ojibwa family who live on an island in Lake Superior in 1847; PW's Best Books citation called it "captivating." Ages 9-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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