Thursday, April 24, 2008

On Wisconsin!

First off, Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison just survived a challenge in middle school libraries in Menasha, Wisconsin.

This is the first book in the Georgia Nicolson series, is completely appropriate for junior high, and is hilarious. Also, Menasha is right next to my hometown. You knew you had crossed the magic land from Appleton to Menasha because the street signs had changed color.

More Wisconsin:

My family used to sometimes vacation in Bayfield, Wisconsin, up on the shores of Lake Superior. One cool thing is that this is the mainland point for the Apostle Islands, including Madeline Island which has a small town called La Pointe.

In all of my fantasies about running away and becoming a hermit, I run away to La Pointe. Even if my dad did tell me they had a blizzard last weekend, while last night we had tiki torches and spent the evening in the backyard and the peonies are almost out...

Anyway, yeah... La Pointe...

I bring this up, because it is the setting for 2 amazing books,

The Birchbark House Louise Erdrich

In Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (which also takes place in Wisconsin) Wilder starts her chronicle of settlers moving west and the pioneer spirit.

In The Birchbark House, Erdrich starts her series of response--telling the story of the people who already lived on that land and were dispossessed and pushed further and further west to make room for the white man.

The book tells the story of 1 year in the life of Omakayas, an Ojibwe girl on what is now called Madeline Island. She helps her mother with the daily chores, they move to the birchbark house, the fishing camps, the rice camps, and the winter cabin and back as the year cycles. Her beautiful older sister is sometimes mean, sometimes nice. Her little brother is always a pain.

Small pox visits the island and no one is safe.

A great book about growing up and life on Lake Superior in the mid-19th century.

The Game of Silence Louise Erdrich

This is the next book in the series. In this one, the Ojibwe are told they have to leave the island and move west, where the Bwaang live. The Bwaang are not are warriors and do not welcome visitors. The island receives a band of refugees who were forced west into Bwaang territory and pushed back.

This is another year in the life of Omakayas. She makes friends with the newcomers, she worries for the men who were sent out to find why the people are being forced to leave, she realizes how important home is to her, and she doesn't want to go.

Her dreams continue and there is growing conflict with Two Strike's wild ways.

At the end of the book (so, slight spoiler, but only if you're unacquainted with US History with regards to Native Americans) they have to leave the island. I'm looking forward to the next books in the series, to see what happens once Omakayas has to leave home.

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