Books: Fiction

Chickadee

Book – Fiction. By Louise Erdrich. 2012. 208 pages.
The fourth book in the series following the Ojibwe girl Omakayas and her family as their lands are invaded by white settlers.

Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849
Themes: Native American

In 1999, Louise Erdrich introduced Omakayas, the seven-year-old Ojibwe girl at the heart of Birchbark House. Set in the mid 1800s in Lake Superior, Birchbark House chronicles the lives of Omakayas and her family through a time when American Indians, their lives, lifestyles, and homelands were increasingly under threat by white settlers and soldiers. Birchbark House was a finalist for the National Book Award for a gripping story that, unlike Little House on the Prairie, did not demonize “other.”

Since then, Erdrich has written three more books about Omakayas. Chickadee is the fourth book in the series. In it, Omakayas’s twin boys, Chickadee and Makoons, carry the story forward as this generation of the family moves to the Plains in search of Chickadee, who has been abducted by two Ojibwe men who want him as their servant.

Throughout the story, Erdrich eloquently imparts traditional Ojibwe stories, history, spirituality, and knowledge in the seamless way this knowledge is told within Native families and communities. On a day when the air had an “iron edge of snow” (p. 2), she remembers, for example, gazing at her tiny newborn twins, and reflects on an Ojibwe story about how the world was created by twin brothers. As the story moves towards the eventual reunion of the family, Chickadee grows to understand that “small things have great power” (p. 27). Aimed at third grade and up, readers of Chickadee will come away from this small book with a power of their own: knowledge of a peoples perseverance, and an appreciation of the writer’s art in stringing together just the right words to elegantly convey place, thought, and emotion. View full series. [Description by Debbie Reese.]

ISBN: 9780060577902 | Published by HarperCollins.