Monday, March 26, 2012

Family of Refugees: The Porcupine Year

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Although I still haven't finished The Birchbark House (I'm reading it now), I found the third book in Louise Erdrich's series abut the Ojibwe family during the mid 1800's while grabbing books for my Reading My Library quest.  So I scooped up The Porcupine Year as a guaranteed good book, and was not disappointed.

Omakayas is a little bit older now, more responsible for her youngest brother and more aware of her male cousin, but still secure in the care of her parents and extended family, especially her grandmother Old Tallow, whose fierce nature and strong dogs provide protection for the tiny clan. At first things go easily because of their knowledge of the land and skills, with only childish (but dangerous) adventures, but the betrayal of their white uncle abruptly leaves them facing winter with no supplies or equipment.  Suddenly the family faces starvation, and the true effects of their expulsion from their birchbark house looms over them.

I liked the sense of realism -- there are real consequences and dangers, and the family expects that but doesn't let it devour them. Louise Erdrich has a good touch in these children's books just as she does in her adult works.

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