Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Omakayas: A Strong Role Model for an Eight Year Old Girl

For the past two weeks, I have been reading aloud The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich to the kids. This has been so enjoyable for many reasons. First, I love a book that keeps me (an adult reader) totally entertained. This was the kind of book I did not want to put down. I wanted to keep going, even after the kids were in bed. But, I stopped myself. I can't read a chapter without them. I also love books that touch me so deeply that I cry while reading to them. Sometimes, I just can't help myself. Louise is a brilliant writer. She packs in so much emotion and description in this book, keeping both the adult and the children satisfied. The second reason I loved this book so much was because of it's location. This story takes place on The Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. Today, it's name is Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands of Wisconsin. It is the Island we see every Wednesday on the way to story hour. Although it is fictional history, it was well researched and it is AUTHENTIC. Written by a woman who is of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwa, she researched and gathered information and interviewed people to write about the life of an Ojibwa family living on the Island in the 1800's. Last but not least, the main character, Omakayas, is a strong role model for an eight year old girl. She is physically and spiritually strong. She is a survivor and a healer.

This is what Charlotte had to say about the character, Omakayas:
"She was very physical. She was strong, axed her own wood, kind of like me. She talked to bears, she was very nice. I liked the story because it was a lot like me. One day I played that I was Omakayas when she grew up. I pretended that I was married. I called the dad Deyde and everything. I set up fur trading. It's like you bring something and trade for another thing like buying. I made my camp and set up what they would have done. It was a happy camp and I liked it alot because it's what I like to do in the woods."

This is what Charlotte had to say about some of the seasons in the book:
"In the spring they set up a birchbark house and lived in it because it was hot in the summers. In the winters they lived in a log cabin. They sat around fires, sewing telling stories. They almost starved, there was no game, they all got the smallpox, but Omakayas didn't because she got it when she was a baby. She took care of everybody. That's when her brother passed and everyone got sick but her and Old Tallow. It was really sad. It made my mom cry like eight times. We liked it and we are reading the next book."


  1. I have had this one on my list for the kids to read, but we haven't gotten around to it yet. Sounds like I better get it on the library list soon. :) Thanks for the awesome book review, ladies. :)

  2. Thanks Hannah. We are now on book two, The Game of Silence. It's really a winner too!