Blessing's Bead

Debby Dahl Edwardson

Melanie Kroupa Books

Download Image Debby Dahl Edwardson Blessing's Bead

Available Formats

Nutaaq and her older sister, Aaluk, are on a great journey, sailing from a small island off the coast of Alaska to the annual trade fair. There, a handsome young Siberian wearing a string of cobalt blue beads watches Aaluk “the way a wolf watches a caribou, never resting.” Soon his actions—and other events more horrible than Nutaaq could ever imagine—threaten to shatter her I~nupiaq world. Seventy years later, Nutaaq’s greatgranddaughter, Blessing, is on her own journey, running from the wreckage of her life in Anchorage to live in a remote Arctic village with a grandmother she barely remembers. In her new home, unfriendly girls whisper in a language she can’t understand, and Blessing feels like an outsider among her own people. Until she finds a cobalt blue bead—Nutaaq’s bead—in her grandmother’s sewing tin. The events this discovery triggers reveal the power of family and heritage to heal, despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

Two distinct teenage voices pull readers into the native world of northern Alaska in this beautifully crafted and compelling debut novel.

Connect with the Author

Sign Up for
Author Updates

Macmillan Newsletter

Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

Book Excerpts

Read an Excerpt

The Trade Fair at Sheshalik
The Siberians are traveling with us to the trade fair, travel­ing along the coast, their boats piled high with the rein­deer skins they have brought to trade. Our dogs run along the shore like shadows, their packs bouncing against their ribs—happy to be out in the late night sun, happy to be free. I am happy, too, gliding along in our skin boat, watching them run, wishing I could stretch my limbs and run with them, run for the sheer joy of it, as they do.
How glorious it is when summer comes again! Glorious to be out on the open water of the summer

Read the full excerpt



Praise for Blessing's Bead

“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

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Debby Dahl Edwardson

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.

Debby Dahl Edwardson


Reading Guide

For Parents and Educators

Get the Activity Guide

Download the Blessing's Bead projects for children to do at home and in the classroom.

Download PDF

Other Guides


Buy the Book

Available Formats and Book Details

Blessing's Bead
Debby Dahl Edwardson


American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults


Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Melanie Kroupa Books
November 2009
ISBN: 9780374308056
ISBN10: 0374308055
Middle-Grade Fiction
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 192 pages, Author's note, glossary
Age Range: 10 to 14
Grade Range: 4 to 8 Information for Librarians

Information for Librarians

F&P Level A-Z: X


e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Melanie Kroupa Books
November 2009
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429946780
ISBN10: 1429946784
Middle-Grade Fiction192 pages, Author's note, glossary
Age Range: 10 to 14
Grade Range: 4 to 8

From The Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Latest on Facebook

Latest on Twitter