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Cover image for Chickadee


1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper, ©2012.
Physical Description:
196 pages ; 22 cm
Series title(s):
Number in series:
bk. 4.
General Note:
Sequel to: The porcupine year.

Sequel: Makoons.
1. The hunting spirit -- 2. Gaawiin Mashi -- 3. Reunion -- 4. Small things -- 5. Sons of Zhigaag -- 6. The way it happened -- 7. The chase -- 8. Bouyah -- 9. Into the plains -- 10. Two strike's knives -- 11. River break -- 12. The strange family -- 13. A desperate matter -- 14. Setting up home -- 15. At the mercy of two strike -- 16. The small and the fierce -- 17. The cart train -- 18. Red river trail -- 19. Uncle quill -- 20. Makoons -- 21. St. Paul -- 22. Touching earth -- 23. Return of the Bouyah -- 24. The snake nest -- 25. The wind -- Author's note on the Ojibwe language.
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.
Reading Level:
Ages 8-12.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader 5.1.

Reading Counts! 5.3.


Call Number
Erdrich, L.

On Order



Winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, Chickadee is the first novel of a new arc in the critically acclaimed Birchbark House series by New York Times bestselling author Louise Erdrich.

Twin brothers Chickadee and Makoons have done everything together since they were born--until the unthinkable happens and the brothers are separated.

Desperate to reunite, both Chickadee and his family must travel across new territories, forge unlikely friendships, and experience both unexpected moments of unbearable heartache as well as pure happiness. And through it all, Chickadee has the strength of his namesake, the chickadee, to carry him on.

Chickadee continues the story of one Ojibwe family's journey through one hundred years in America. School Library Journal, in a starred review, proclaimed, "Readers will be more than happy to welcome little Chickadee into their hearts."

Author Notes

Karen Louise Erdrich was born on June 7, 1954 in Little Falls, Minnesota. Erdrich grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota, where both of her parents were employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Erdrich graduated from Dartmouth College in 1976 with an AB degree, and she received a Master of Arts in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University in 1979.

Erdrich published a number of poems and short stories from 1978 to 1982. In 1981 she married author and anthropologist Michael Dorris, and together they published The World's Greatest Fisherman, which won the Nelson Algren Award in 1982. In 1984 she won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Love Medicine, which is an expansion of a story that she had co-written with Dorris. Love Medicine was also awarded the Virginia McCormick Scully Prize (1984), the Sue Kaufman Prize (1985) and the Los Angeles Times Award for best novel (1985).

In addition to her prose, Erdrich has written several volumes of poetry, a textbook, children's books, and short stories and essays for popular magazines. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for professional excellence, including the National Magazine Fiction Award in 1983 and a first-prize O. Henry Award in 1987. Erdrich has also received the Pushcart Prize in Poetry, the Western Literacy Association Award, the 1999 World Fantasy Award, and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2006. In 2007 she refused to accept an honorary doctorate from the University of North Dakota in protest of its use of the "Fighting Sioux" name and logo.

Erdrich's novel The Round House made the New York Times bestseller list in 2013. Her other New York Times bestsellers include Future Home of the Living God (2017).

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-In this, the fourth book in the "Birchbark House" series, Omakayas is now grown and the mother of eight-year-old twin boys, one of whom is kidnapped. As Chickadee and his family try to find one another, Erdrich eloquently imparts Ojibwe stories, history, and knowledge, and, as in the previous books, her own illustrations add charm to the stories. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

If the Birchbark House series is the Native American counterpart to Wilders Little House, this fourth installment might be considered Erdrichs Little Town on the Prairie (rev. 1/42). Set a generation after the first three books, Chickadee centers on the now-adult Omakayass eight-year-old twin sons, Chickadee and Makoons. When Chickadee is abducted from the Ojibwe camp in the deep woods, it not only initiates a string of gripping adventures for the boy but also signals the beginning of a change to his familys way of life: in searching for him they establish themselves in a village on the Great Plains, abandoning the great northern forests and their traditional nomadic existence. Readers will absorb the history lesson almost by osmosis; their full attention will be riveted on the story, whether its Chickadee escaping his (ultimately buffoonish) captors or riding with his uncle Quill in an oxcart train bound for Saint Paul or surviving a vicious mosquito attack ("millions and millions of mosquitoes landed on the flesh of every living being in the oxcart train") or calmly picking baby snakes off the sleeping, phobic Quill. Every detail anticipates readers interest. Chickadee himself is a most sympathetic character -- small in stature but big in heart, like his namesake; and though its mostly his story, interspersed scenes depicting the left-behind Makoonss grief make the brothers reunion at the end all the sweeter. A map, historical prologue, and glossary of Ojibwe terms are appended. martha v. parravano (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

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)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

In the fourth book in Erdrich's award-winning Birchbark House series, the focus moves to a new generation. In 1866, when Omakayas' son, Chickadee, eight, is kidnapped, his twin, Makoons, and his family take off across the cold, snowy Great Plains to find Chickadee, who escapes his captors and then encounters white English settlers, including a kind priest who wants to save Chickadee's soul, and racist Christians, who view Indians as pagan filthy savages. Best for those familiar with the series, the story includes a huge, multigenerational cast of characters, and some readers may have trouble keeping track of who's who. As always, the focus is on the way-of-life details as much as the adventure and on the daily, logistical drama of how the family moves from all that they have known to the Great Plains. Most affecting are the descriptions of Makoons' loneliness without his brother; even in the crowded cabin, There was empty space that could be filled only by Chickadee. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Erdrich's literary clout makes any new release a notable event, and the Birchbark House series has a large and growing following.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist