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The Birchbark House

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The Birchbark House is a 1999 indigenous juvenile realistic fiction novel by Louise Erdrich, and is the first book in a five book series known as The Birchbark series. The story follows the life of Omakayas and her Ojibwe community beginning in 1847 near present-day Lake Superior. The Birchbark House has received rave reviews and was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for young people's fiction.After the prologue the novel continues that the eyes of a seven-year-old young girl, Omakayas ("her name means "little frog"). The circular motion of the Ojibwa culture is represented through the motions of the four seasons, Neebin (summer), Nagwaging (fall). Biboon (winter), and Meegwun (spring). The community in each season works together to hunt, build, gather, and survive. Omakayas cares for her family because she knew that with the winter comes a smallpox epidemic. She learns about her connection to all nature, and discovers her gift of dreams. The most important thing Omakayas learns about herself is why she didn't get smallpox when most everyone in the community did. She has three siblings, Newoo, Little Pinch and Angeline. The novel includes decorative pencil drawings, as well as a map of the Ojibwa community, and a glossary of Ojibwa language translations.
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original title: The Birchbark House
date of publication: 1999
genre: novel
followed by: The Game of Silence

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