The Game of Silence by Louise Erdrich

Erdrich, Louise. 2006. The Game of Silence. New York, NY: HarperCollins. ISBN 0064410293.

Plot Summary:
The Game of Silence is the sequel to The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. This is a story of Omakayas, or Little Frog, a nine-year-old girl who lives on an island in Lake Superior. She is a part of the Ojibwe Indians and one day she discovers that some unfamiliar people want her and the other Ojibwe Indians to leave the island. These people are part of the United States government and they want the Omakayas’s people’s land. This creates a whole other set of problems as the Ojibwe Indians are moving near land of another tribe.

Critical Analysis:
The Game of Silence is told in third person as the reader experiences the events of the tale from the outside looking in. Although Omakayas (Little Frog) lives in the mid 1800s, she is easy for readers to identify with because she is just another kid with likes, dislikes, and feelings that are similar to the target audience (Ages 8+). The Ojibwe Indians are a peaceful tribe, but know that moving west off their land will be dangerous for their people. Omakayas realizes that everything she has ever known, her home and her culture are endangered, and the tribe must make some tough decisions. This forms a connection between Little Frog and the reader as he or she may begin to imagine what it would be like if his or her family was to be put in a similar situation. With the dramatic storyline, important events, and tough choices in the book, you begin to feel that the message or overall tone of the story is that, you don’t know what you have until you are faced with losing it. An even more basic but still appropriate theme could be that there’s no place like home.

Through vivid descriptions and simple illustrations, the reader is transported into the story and begins to understand the way of life of the Ojibwe Indians. The illustrations and easy-to-read wording allow the story to be enjoyed by younger readers and perhaps be one of the first chapter books or book series that the reader is exposed to on his/her own.

This book is particularly enjoyable and interesting because it includes some of the Ojibwe Indian language and dialect. The author, Louise Erdrich, goes the extra mile by including a glossary of words for the reader, a note about the Ojibwe language and a map of Little Frog’s people’s island. Erdrich goes on to explain that this language is complex and can be challenging but to the best of her ability, she tried to keep the text true to the language.

Eh… could’ve been better..

Awards and Review Excerpts:
Awards: Scott O’dell Award for Historical Fiction

“Erdrich has creatd a world, fictional but real: absorbing, funny, serious, and convincingly human.” – The New York Times Book Review

“Readers who loved Omakayas and her family in The Birchbark House have ample reason to rejoice in this beautifully constructed sequel.” – Kirkus Review

“Offers a perspective of America’s past rarely found in history books.” – Publishers Weekly

The Game of Silence would be a great book to read in a primary or even a 6th grade geography class that is studying Native American tribes and cultures.

Other children’s books by Louise Erdrich:
The Birchbark House. ISBN 0756911869. (The Game of Silence prequel).
Grandmother’s Pigeon. ISBN 0786812044.

Novels by Louise Erdrich:
Love Medicine. ISBN 0061787426.
The Beet Queen. ISBN 0060835273.
The Bingo Palace. ISBN 0061129755.
The Antelope Wife. ISBN 0060930071.
The Painted Drum. ISBN 0060515112.


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