A BROWN BIRD SINGING by Frances Wosmek


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It's rural Minnesota in the 20's; Anego, a Chippewa left by her father to be raised by his white friend, Joseph Veselka, spends her tenth year in fear that she will be taken from the only family she remembers. Anego knows that Hamigeesek promised to return, but when she hears that he will come with the crows in spring, she realizes how completely she has become one of the Veselkas. She's especially close to Joseph, sharing his love of baby animals including a fawn they raise together. Painfully shy, she conceals her fear from them; reserved, they conceal their sorrow at losing her. The birth of a long-wished-for son confirms Anego's belief that they're willing to let her go, but when Mother and Anego work all night together to save the croupy baby it helps them all recognize their mutual love. When Hamigeesek comes, Anego hides in the forest, where he finds her. He whistles bird songs till a brown bird replies and flies to him, and she has a sudden warm remembrance of her dead mother that gives her a sense of kinship to him; in his turn, he loves her well enough to leave her with the family that has become hers. Coming from a Minnesota family like the Veselkas, Wosmek tells her story simply but with remembered detail that gives the setting authenticity. The Indians' problems--poverty, loss of land, need for education--are mentioned, but not dramatized; Anego endures the unthinking stereotypes of neighbors. Yet she is plausible and well drawn; and her anxieties, common among foster and adopted children, hold meaning beyond this specific situation.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1986
Page count: 120pp
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard