by Louise Erdrich

Other authorsLouise Erdrich (Illustrator)
Paperback, 2013

Call number



HarperCollins (2013), Edition: Reprint, 224 pages


In 1866, Omakayas's son Chickadee is kidnapped by two ne'er-do-well brothers from his own tribe and must make a daring escape, forge unlikely friendships, and set out on an exciting and dangerous journey to get back home.

User reviews

LibraryThing member bookwren
Set in 1866, Chickadee follows the sometimes harrowing journey of an 8-year-old Anishinabe (AH-nish-in-AH-bay) boy, separated from his family. Chickadee travels from the wooded lake country of Minnesota to the Plains and south to St. Paul, surviving mostly on his own.
I enjoyed reading Chickadee's
Show More
story, especially as the chickadee is my favorite bird. My favorite chapter is sixteen, "The Small and the Fierce." Chickadee, , is alone and weak in the woods, having had no water or food for about two days. He prays to the great, kind spirit, other helpful spirits ,the little people, spirits of the forest and his namesake. It was the little bird who answered him, helped him, gave him his song.
I am only the Chickadee
Yet small things have great power
I speak the truth.
The bird tells the boy to walk over the next rise to a stream, where he will find a freshly killed rabbit and two hawks, talons locked and helpless to free themselves. If he helps the hawks, they will help him. He does and they do. This beautiful chapter epitomizes the Native American spirit and respect for the natural world. It is the way I strive to follow.
Includes a map of his travels and a Glossary and Pronunciation Guide of Ojibwe Terms. Louise Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and this story was inspired when Ms. Erdrich and her mother, Rita Gourneau Erdrich, were researching their own family history.
Show Less
LibraryThing member bouchk
Part of the Birchbark House Series, historical fiction. This book follows Chickadee and his family through changing times. They move from living in the forest to living on the Plains. Plot and characters are well-developed. Pencil illustrations depicting cultural dress, events, and animals. Grades
Show More
Show Less
LibraryThing member joeydag
A wonderful story set in 1866 Minnesota. Chickadee is one of twin brothers of a native american family. He is separated from his brother and we follow his adventures in rejoining his family. Young and old readers will enjoy the comedy and the historical aspects. I enjoyed it so much I'm looking for
Show More
the first three episodes in this series, The Birchbark House.
Show Less
LibraryThing member juniperSun
Heard as audio book. Another endearing and enduring story from Erdrich. Twin boys play tricks on elders which leads to repercussions. When one boy is kidnapped, the whole family is affected.
This excellent writing really gets the reader to experience what life was like, e.g. riding on a
Show More
wooden-wheeled cart over rough trails, being swarmed by mosquitoes, or eating starvation food.
Show Less
LibraryThing member reader1009
children's historic fiction; native americans 1860s. This wasn't bad and showed promise, I just wasn't able to finish it because other library patrons were waiting for it and I didn't feel like historic fiction at the time. Maybe will come back to it.
LibraryThing member bookwren
I read this for my Never Too Old Book Club, and I chose number 4 for my love of the cheery little bird. I am well-rewarded as the protagonist, a twin Ojibwe boy, is named after the chickadee, who becomes his guide. Once, Chickadee bemoaned having such a small bird as his spirit animal, especially
Show More
since his twin brother, Makoons, is named for bear. But his wise, Nokomis (grandmother) gently berates him, saying that "Small things have great power." (p. 28) Chickadee is contrite and apologizes to his namesake with an offering of hazelnuts. Later, when the boy is alone and far from home, Chickadee comes to his aid.
Set in 1866, Chickadee is the continuing saga of Omakayas's family as they move west during the European expansion, suffer from smallpox and other tragedies, but find their strength and hope in culture and relations. Ms. Erdrich, who is of the Chippewa people, writes with innate knowledge of indigenous ways. In one scene, after Chickadee has been kidnapped, his worried family sits together in silence to think matters through before coming to an action decision. She further explores beliefs as Chickadee learns more about his namesake and comes to rely on the bird for guidance and hope (see the quotation from page 118).
My favorite chapter is "The Small and the Fierce" when Chickadee is in despair at ever finding his way home. The small bird comes to him and teaches the boy his song: "I am only the Chickadee/Yet small things have great power. I speak the truth." He also connects him with two Red-tailed Hawks, whom he saves, and the two sisters become his Mothers. "He [Chickadee] was not so lonely now. He'd been adopted. He had a father, the chickadee, and two mothers who were hawks." (p. 118)
Ms. Erdrich lightens the sometimes tense and sad story with two bumbling brothers who first kidnap Chickadee to be their servant, and later make him their master in trying to impress Two Strike, Chickadee's formidable aunt, whom they wish to marry. She also shows the great love between Chickadee and his twin by writing of the boys' feelings both before and after their separation. Makoons becomes ill with worry the longer his brother is gone.
This is an excellent series to read along with and as an alternative voice to the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. As Ms. Erdrich states in an interview with Martha Parravano: "The migration across Minnesota into the Dakotas, and the warmth of family life, is something that these books have in common with the Little House series. I am happy that they are being read togehter, as the Native experience of early western settlement is so oftne missing in middle-grade history classes."
Show Less
LibraryThing member jennybeast
I've read this at least twice, and am puzzled that goodreads seems to have deleted my review. This is one of my favorite books in the series -- Chickadee is deeply endearing as a character, and even though there are many hard things that happen, it is a wonderful story.
LibraryThing member Stahl-Ricco
It’s 1866, and Omakayas is married with children!?!?!
That felt like a big jump from where the last novel left off! But I guess it’s been 14 years, so…

She has twin eight-year-old boys, Chickadee and Makoons. And Chickadee is stolen by the Zhigaag brothers! The ENTIRE family packs up camp to
Show More
chase them down, including Two Strike. And, as Orph Carter says, “…I don’t want to be here when Two Strike comes after this boy.”! Good advice, as Two Strike has grown into a tremendous woman hunter/warrior and her strength rivals any man! It's a good story, with a nice ending, but I must admit that I liked the tales of young Omakayas a little more than the story of her twins. It isn't bad, it's just my preference. Great illustrations and great map, as well as a cool song for the twin whose name graces the cover of the book:

"I am only the Chickadee
Yet small things have
great power
I speak the truth."

And good advice from Nokomis: "She said that was how the world should work. We should fix what we break in this world for the ones who come next, our children." Amen!
Show Less




0060577924 / 9780060577926
Page: 0.3762 seconds