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Blessing's Bead Hardcover – November 10, 2009

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Concrete and symbolic references to the transforming power of language, names, and stories link the two narratives, but it's the Nutaaqs' rhythmic, indelible voices--both as steady and elemental as the beat of a drum or a heart--that will move readers most. A unique, powerful debut. (Starred, Booklist)

Atmospheric yet restrained, this is a moving account of what's changed and what remains in Inupiaq life. (Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books)

The community's sharing of a whale adds color, as do the authentic imagery, details, and language that pervade this memorable story. (Horn Book)

Blessing makes an emotional journey of self-discovery, as Edwardson weaves a fascinating portrait of a family's rich history. (Publishers Weekly)

This unique and fascinating tale is told in an evocative voice that includes Village English, school English, Native language, and colloquialisms. (School Library Journal)

Edwardson treads an elegant line in her perspective: Blessing is both an insider--Iñupiaq--and an outsider still learning exactly what that means. It's a perspective that allows any reader in, and they'll learn much about the power of stories and names and how to use them both. (Kirkus Reviews)

This heartwarming story is richly told in the tradition of storytelling and its characters grow up in and come to love. (ALAN Online)

An outstanding novel. Every young person and adult should read this page-turning look into the culture of the Iñupiaq Eskimos. It is both a compelling and an enriching tale. (Jean Craighead George, author of the Newbery Medal Book Julie of the Wolves and the Newbery Honor Book My Side of the Mountain)

Blessing's Bead is beautifully seen, glinting with Arctic light. It is also beautifully heard. Edwardson's voice is as clear and fresh as a wind off the frozen sea. There are passages that simply take your breath away. (Tim Wynne-Jones, award-winning author of the Rex Zero books)

Blessing's Bead is a gem--lyrical, fresh--and a compelling story, too. What a unique and universal tale! (Marion Dane Bauer, author of the Newbery Honor Book On My Honor and Killing Miss Kitty and Other Sins)

About the Author

We are all of us reflections of the experiences we've had, the places we've lived, the people we've loved.

I've lived for over 30 years on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, a place of many challenges and many rewards. I haven't always lived here, but I've always lived in northern places. I grew up in Minnesota, where I spent summers with my mother at our family cabin on an island in the boundary waters of the Canadian border. My mother was an artist and I was a dreamer...and a reader. I read constantly and dreamed of becoming a writer.

As I grew older, I ventured even further north, to Noway, the land of my ancestors where I immersed myself in the Norwegian culture and learned the language. I attended Nansenskolen in Lillehammer--long before Lillehammer became the site of the winter Olympics.

The school was named after Fridjof Nansen, arctic explorer. Little did I know that I would follow Nansen's footsteps, north to the arctic--not as an explorer, but as a wanderer.

My wanderings took me to northern Alaska, home of the Inupiat, the "real people." There I found a mentor who taught me to see the world through his eyes. It was a good world.

I married this man whose grandfather, as it turned out, was Norwegian. Together we've raised seven children who are now living all over the country and across the globe from Washington DC to Austrailia.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. Along the way I've worked as a nurse's aide, a waitress, a pipeline worker, a radio reporter, a PR writer, a college director and a school board president. And now, at last, I really am a writer. Isn't it interesting how life works?

As many writers do, I write what I know, and through knowing it in my own way, make it my own, something both very old and very new at the same time, straddling the distinct and sometimes divergent traditions that make me who I am.

DEBBY DAHL EDWARDSON'S first book, Whale Snow, was named an NCSS/CBC Notable, a Banks Street Best, Independent Publishers, Best Picture Book of the Year and an IRA Notable Book for a Global Society. She earned an MFA at Vermont College in 2005.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 870L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1St Edition edition (November 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374308055
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374308056
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #956,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I live far far away in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost community on the North American Continent--the top of the world, actually.

I've lived here pretty much all of my adult life and this place and its people, the Inupiaq Eskimos of Alaska, have shaped who I am as a writer. Most of the stories I write are set within this cultural context. It is not the culture I was not born into but it is the one I belong to, the one that has become home to me as a human being and as an artist.

Visit my website at and my blog:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Saxton on November 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Nutaaq stands on the northwestern shore of Alaska, watching her sister sail away to a new life in Siberia with her husband. The pain of separation, the importance of family, and the power of a name are all mirrored 70 years later in Nutaaq's great-granddaughter Blessing, whose Eskimo name is also Nutaaq. Author Debby Dahl Edwardson weaves two powerful, parallel stories that vividly portray life in the North Slope village of Barrow, Alaska, America's northernmost settlement. Drawing on the historical events that have shaped the Inupiaq, the real people, Edwardson deftly fills the void in contemporary, realistic fiction about the Native people of Alaska. This story is one of hope, faithfulness, and love. Life in the village is a special, unique, precious thing, and reading Blessing's Bead made me feel immensely, fiercely proud of these people and the hardships they have faced, rising again and again to protect the things that are most sacred to them: family, culture, and a life well lived on the land.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Annrenee on September 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Blessing's Bead is the best kind of story, both universal and specific. The themes of self-identity, finding home, and recognizing family occur in all times and places. But this story is set in a very special and little-known part of the world, Arctic Alaska. As someone who has lived in Alaska for 30 years and visited in the Arctic, I can attest that the details of the novel are genuine and authentic.

Best of all, the storytelling is compelling. Blessing's voice is strong throughout, as she grapples with making sense of the two different worlds she inhabits. We also learn some interesting and little-known history through the story of Blessing's ancestor and namesake, Nutaaq. It is this connection between past and present that stands out for me. It reminds me how important it is to be aware of where we came from and how we got here, both as individuals and as societies.
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By Annette on June 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I loved this story! It is a multi generational story of young girls living in the Arctic Circle. Each set of girls are living in different time periods, yet they each have strong family bonds. I feel this would be an excellent tool to use in the classroom for teachers that want to focus on the people group Inuit/Eskimo/Arctic Circle.
The vivid imagery of the area where they live is brought to life in my mind: the chill of the weather, the clothing they wear, the food that they eat, the landscape.
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By fhornbrger on October 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This story based on historical facts is a wonderful read. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction.
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