By Louise Erdrich

Rated: ages 8 to 12

Chickadee was born in a snowstorm, the first in a set of twin boys. Twins are revered in the Dakota culture; even so, they were very small and were not expected to survive. They did, and grew into strong young boys. The forested land gave them everything they needed: moose and bird to eat, berries to pick, and even maple sugar. It was at maple sugar camp that the trouble started. Old Zigaag was causing mischief again, teasing Chickadee about his small stature. His grandma stood up for him, whacking Zigaag on his prized top hat, ruining it. Zigaag’s grown bully sons get into the disagreement. They kidnap Chickadee and take him away to their dirty cabin in the great plains. Chickadee is forced to be their servant, cooking the rancid meet and mice into a stew called Bouyah. Chickadee survives by remembering his grandmother’s words, “I am only the Chickadee. Yet small things have great power.
I speak the truth.”

Chickadee is written by one of my favorite adult authors, Louise Erdrich. This is book four in the Birchbark House Series. The series spans one hundred years of one Ojibwe family’s life in America. It is inspired by Erdrich’s family history. Erdrich is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. She was researching her family history with her mother when she began writing this book. The kidnapping scene could be scary for a tween. And, although violence is often threatened, it is not carried out by Zigaag’s sons. Through this book, we experience life as it was for these people in 1866 from the forested land of Minnesota to the great plains.

Erdrich, L. (2012). Chickadee (1st ed.). New York, New York: Harper.