School Library Journal (September 1, 2012)
Gr 4-8-Effortlessly and beautifully, Erdrich continues her story about an Ojibwe family in northern Minnesota in the mid 1800s. The series began with Omakayas's girlhood and now shifts to the lives of her sons. In 1866, quiet Chickadee and mischievous Makoons are inseparable eight-year-old twins, cherished by their extended family. When they gather with other Ojibwe to make maple sugar, a cruel older man mocks Chickadee for his small size and namesake. Makoons defends his brother's honor by playing a revengeful prank on the man, which humiliates and incenses him. His thick-headed, muscle-bound sons vow revenge and kidnap Chickadee, carrying him away and forcing him to serve their bewildering oafish demands. His family is heartbroken and pursues the captors while Makoons becomes listless and ill. Chickadee eventually escapes, in time reuniting with a traveling uncle, who leads the way back to his family. Through many harrowing adventures, the child is aided and encouraged by his avian namesake, who teaches him that small things have great power. Erdrich's storytelling is masterful. All of the characters, even minor ones, are believable and well developed, and small pencil drawings add to the story's charm. The northern Minnesota setting is vividly described, and information about Ojibwe life and culture is seamlessly woven into every page. Readers will be more than happy to welcome little Chickadee into their hearts.-Lisa Crandall, Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.