Erdrich continues the saga of Omakayas and her family, who now embark in 1866 on a life-changing search that takes them from Minnesota’s North Woods to the Great Plains in this fourth book of The Birchbark House Series.
Omakayas is now a young mother with lively 8-year-old twins named Chickadee and Makoons. When the tribe’s bully, Zhigaag, calls Chickadee a “weakling” who’s “scrawny like his namesake,” grandmother Nokomis reminds him that “[s]mall things have great power.” After Makoons tricks Zhigaag, his oafish sons avenge their father by hijacking Chickadee to the Red River Valley. Chickadee’s family searches desperately until they reach Pembina on the Great Plains. Meanwhile, resourceful Chickadee escapes and survives with help from his wee namesake until he runs into his Uncle Quill driving an ox cart of furs to sell in St. Paul. Quill and Chickadee travel with fellow traders on the Red River ox cart trail, arriving in Pembina to find Makoons seriously ill. Chickadee and Makoons extend Omakaya’s story to the next generation as her Ojibwe family transitions from its native woods culture to life on the plains. Realistic black-and-white spot art provides snapshots of Chickadee’s adventures.
A beautifully evolving story of an indigenous American family. (map; glossary & pronunciation guide of Ojibwe terms) (Historical fiction. 8-12)