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julesmarie

The Book High

I've always said I'll read anything, and I really do mean that. Lately M/M romance has had my interest, but fantasy and sci-fi were my first loves and will always hold a special place in my heart. I also love histories and biographies.

Currently reading

The Mists of Avalon
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Shakespeare After All
Marjorie Garber
The Birchbark House - Louise Erdrich One of our literature books for 3rd grade at our school is [b:Little House on the Prairie|77767|Little House on the Prairie (Little House, #2)|Laura Ingalls Wilder|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344695948s/77767.jpg|2884161]. Last year, the full-blooded Navajo parent of one of my students was bothered enough by the portrayal of Native Americans in that book that he asked to come in and talk to the class about his tribe.

We decided to add a literature book from a Native American perspective to help balance things out a little. I was delighted to finally find this one.

Omakayas, the main character in the book is 7 turning 8 years old, has an older sister who's perfect enough to resent, a younger brother who constantly annoys her, and a baby brother she adores. The book opens at the beginning of summer when Omakayas and her family are moving into their summer home. They build their summer birchbark house (a wigwam) and we proceed to follow the family through their adventures of the next year.

Omakayas helps her mother cure leather, gathers berries, listens to stories, protects their corn field from ravens (one of whom becomes her pet), learns to sew moccasins and attach tiny beads to decorate them. She also makes friends with a family of bears who return time after time to protect, help, and eventually guide her.

When they return to their winter house in the village, they visit with neighbors and we get to see some new traditions, as well as see how difficult surviving through a winter was.

My only concerns are two scenes which make me slightly reluctant to recommend this to my students: Omakayas's baby brother dies in her arms during a smallpox outbreak. And a crazy old lady who's kindly to Omakayas but has a pack of dogs, one of whom is not at all friendly to her, ends up killing one of the dogs after it attacks Omakayas.

Overall, though, excellent book!