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Birchbark House Books In Order

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Publication Order of Birchbark House Books

The Birchbark House (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Game of Silence (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Porcupine Year (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Chickadee (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Makoons (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Birchbark House is a series of indigenous fiction books written by Louise Erdrich. The Birchbark Series follows a character known as Omakayas and her Ojibwe community.

+The story

The Birchbark House series starts in 1847. It begins with a group of Ojibwa fur traders stumbling upon a baby girl, the only survivor of a smallpox epidemic on an Island. One of the men brings the child to the attention of his wife.

The story quickly shifts to Omakayas, a young girl through whose eyes the Birchbark House series of novels unfold. Through the motions of the four seasons around which the Ojibwa culture revolves, Omakayas explores the world around her, learning about her connection to nature and slowly coming to unravel the truth behind her gift.

The Birchbark House series of novels is set apart because of the author’s use of decorative pencil drawings, Louise Erdrich using these graphical representations to bring the Ojibwa community to life. Her efforts are further supported by the glossary of Ojibwa language translations which are included in her books.

Louise utilizes quite a sizable cast to tell her story. Chief amongst these figures in the Birchbark house series of novels is Omakayas; it is through the eyes of this seven-year-old child that the story is told.

Omakayas is kind, gentle, friendly little girl that enjoys the love and affection of everyone that she meets. Her gift of dreams not only allows her to learn about herself and her connection to nature, but she comes to gain a deeper understanding of the world around her, even as she continues her training to become a medicine woman.

Louise Erdrich’s series of novels are centered around the culture of the Ojibwe community and their various practices. She makes an effort to bring the workings of this community to life, exploring the way they stretch and clean buffalo hide.

New readers will enjoy the unique experience that the Birchbark house series of novels provide.

+The Author

Louise Erdrich is an Ojibwe writer born in 1954. A poet and novelist, she is best known for her work on a series of children’s books featuring Native American characters. A member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, Louise is considered to be one of the most significant Native American writers working today.

Born in Little Falls, Minnesota, Louise was one of seven children born to a German-American and a half French-American, Half Ojibwa.

Louise attended Dartmouth College in 1972, earning a B.A in English. Meeting her future husband Michael Dorris, an anthropologist, and writer, along the way, she also earned a Masters of Arts in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University not long after.

Her parents’ heritage has played a crucial role in the work she has been doing in the literary arena. She often tackles Native-American issues in her books, creating the sorts of characters most readers are unlikely to ever encounter in contemporary fiction.

+The Birchbark House

Louise Erdrich’s award-winning Birchbark house brings a slice of history to life for the enjoyment of young readers.

Omakayas is a seven-year-old Ojibwa girl. The only survivor of a smallpox epidemic on Spirit Island, Omakayas only survived death because she was rescued by Tallow, a fearless woman, and welcomed into an Ojibwa family living on the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker.

The Birchbark house follows Omakayas through the four seasons of 1847, this including another winter during which a smallpox outbreak overtook the Island.

The riveting daily lives of a typical Native American family are brought to life as readers learn how members of the Ojibwa community tan moose hides, pick berries and scare away crows from cornfields.

Louise Erdrich did her homework before writing the first book in the Birchbark house series, interviewing Ojibwa elders about the significance of places like the Madeline Island around which the story is set.

Louise also closely scrutinized the letters of foreign travelers to the area, even spending time with younger occupants on the island to get a better idea of life among the Ojibwe.

Readers who like Louise’s work will appreciate her pencil drawings, which infuse her intent and the soul of her Ojibwa inheritance into her book. Most people cannot help but enjoy this gorgeous book, which mostly follows 7-year old Omakayas through a single year of her life.

There are a number of strands woven through the narrative. Life isn’t easy for Omakayas, whose must take on a number of responsibilities. The world of the Ojibwe community is brought to life rather starkly, and Omakayas’ determination to hold onto her Ojibwa roots despite the advent of missionaries, foreign traders and settlers are quite endearing.

On a whole, the Birchbark house is a children’s novel, though some readers might choose to assign it to the young adult genre. It is none the less quite the captivating to read. More than merely entertaining its audience, one cannot help but learn from the lessons embedded within the novel’s narrative, Louise teaching her readers about a culture and community she knows well.

+The Game of Silence

Omakayas (little frog) was called so because her first step was a hop. Currently living on an Island in Lake Superior, Omakayas’ life takes a strange turn when mysterious people visit her island one random day in 1850.

She soon learns that white people, the so-called chimookomanag, want Omakayas, her family and every one of her community to leave the Island. It isn’t until this moment that Omakayas comes to learn the value of her way of life.

The second novel in the Birchbark series, The Game of silence is as enthralling as it is captivating. Following the adventures of Omakayas, an Ojibwe girl, the novel is targeted towards young adults, though the rhythms and narratives of the story are such that most adult readers will enjoy Louise’s work.

In The Game of Silence, Omakayas’ potential as a future spiritual leader is revealed. This is at a time when her whole world begins to change and she begins to understand the harshness of life.

Some people might take offense with the way Louise portrays the native Americans in her book, especially the adults, all of whom are as honorable and noble as they come. If The Game of Silence attracts one criticism, it is the fact that it could have been a little more realistic about the treatment some Ojibwe adults afford to foreigners.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Birchbark House

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