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Bird Girl & the Man Who Followed the Sun: An Athabaskan Indian Legend from Alaska
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Bird Girl & the Man Who Followed the Sun: An Athabaskan Indian Legend from Alaska

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  312 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
In her spellbinding second book, the award-winning author interweaves two classic Athabaskan legends set in ancient central Alaska. This is the story of two rebels who break the strict taboos of their communal culture in their quests for freedom and adventure. Readers will be captivated by this profound myth about two young people who wander far from their culture's deeply ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 1st 1996 by Epicenter Press (first published 1996)
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55th out of 195 books — 128 voters
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217th out of 588 books — 532 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 582)
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Jalilah
This spellbinding story is set in the pre-Colombian Alaskan wilderness where the Ch'eekwaii (Inuits)and the Gwich'in (Athabeskans ) are often at war with each other over border disputes regarding hunting territory.
The author Velma Wallis is Athabaskan herself and grew up in the very area the novel takes place with the legends of her people. It says in her bio that she lived on her own in a cabin in the wilderness for many years, doing all her own hunting and trapping and experiencing the wilder
...more
Chris
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ana
Feb 27, 2011 Ana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
EVERYBODY NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK.

It was amazing, I did not put it down until it was over. Something about it just pulled me in and captivated me.
Will Byrnes
Oct 20, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it liked it
Wallis grew up in a traditional Athabaskan family in Interior Alaska. This is her telling of two native legends, one of Bird girl, a strong, independent female, who endures massive hardship at the hands of a rival tribe, gets her revenge in the end, but suffers greatly, and Daggoo, a male counterpart. Daggoo does not want to hunt like the other boys in his tribe. He loves to be outdoors, loves to explore and possesses a profound curiosity about the world, always wondering what lies beyond the ne ...more
Lauren
Dec 31, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, culture, alaska
Velma Wallis, an Athabaskan Indian woman from Alaska, was set on codifying some of the legends that her mother had told her about their people. Her first endeavor, Two Old Women, became a bestseller. Her second project was the mingling of two legends she had heard throughout her childhood. Each of the stories were similar because they focused on "loners" or people who do not fit into the norm of society.

Bird Girl and Daagoo are from different bands of the Gwich'in tribe and have one chance meeti
...more
Louisa
Jun 29, 2013 Louisa rated it liked it
In this story, two ancient Gwich'in legends are mingled, both concerning young people who 'do not fit in' and are shunned by their tribe. One of the legends is about a boy who dreams of a land where the sun always shines. He holds on to a map - drawn on a piece of tanned moose skin - that may lead him there. The other legend concerns a girl who shies away from marriage and the traditional role of Gwich'in women, preferring instead to go hunting and survive on her own.
Velma Wallis wove these two
...more
Susan  Odetta
Feb 07, 2015 Susan Odetta rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rated-five-stars
I had recently re-read Two Old Women, the author's first book re-telling an ancient Athabaskan legend passed on by her grandmother. It was wonderful (see my review), so I had to read this re-telling of another legend. Across cultural, geographic, and temporal distances this little book tells the story of my own life, "She buried all thoughts of her loved ones in the back of her mind as she forced her legs to walk calmly, not run, from those who wanted to take away her freedom." And this from the ...more
Kyle
Jan 24, 2010 Kyle rated it liked it
Not quite as great as her more famous work, Two Old Women, this story is the blending of two legends of Wallis's native Alaskan ancestry. I must say that in the beginning of the book, I was pretty sure I knew where the story was going. Velma Wallis surprised me very much, however, when the story takes quite a dark turn. In the afterword, it is noted that she was unsure whether or not to take the story into that dark place, but that is how it had been told among her people, so she stayed true to ...more
Jenreiter
Nov 29, 2014 Jenreiter rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and intriguing... A great read!
Kathy
Apr 04, 2015 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read that I enjoyed. It gets an extra star because it remains true to its roots.
Interestingly it shows the brutality of a culture that is the same as many others -- murder, slavery and rape. And unfortunately we have two young women who felt they would not be able to return to their homes, because they would not be fully accepted back because of the rape. Still true today in so many instances. But these are only a small part of the story which follows a legend of returning to family and
...more
Courtney
Jul 18, 2014 Courtney rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-by-women
I can't give it a 4-star (really liked it) because while it was well-written and a quick read, I only LIKED it. I don't know about anyone else who may have read this, but I was spending quite a lot of time saying, "Well, THAT'S depressing." I suppose I only liked it because it seriously mirrored the "ain't life a bitch?" way of the world. I was surprised that there was anything resembling a happy ending. I did enjoy it overall, though, and I'd certainly recommend it to others.
Nan
Sep 16, 2014 Nan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
This is a simple beautiful story about being different and chasing after your dreams, despite what people think. But it's set in the faraway lands of Alaska, inserted in the Eskimo culture, and that's what makes it rich. Velma's writing is so candid and virtuous, always trying to send out a message of humanness. I first read her works with "Two old women" and I fell in love from the very first line. And this book, didn't let me down at all. I totally recommend it.
Sofía
Dec 27, 2014 Sofía rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan Chapek
Apr 23, 2015 Susan Chapek rated it really liked it
I read this book in one sitting, unable to put it down even to brew a second cup of tea.

Velma Wallis borrows from at least three different Native American legends for this moving story of two young people, each of whom feels born to live differently from the ways expected of their communities.

That's almost a given theme for many YA stories (especially historicals). But this book is unique in two ways.

First, their communities are small tribes living centuries ago in an extreme climate. So socie
...more
Pj
I didn't want to read this at first. The font drove me crazy. I didn't like the setting snow cold Arctic. But I am glad I kept reading. The book tells a tale passed from one generation to another among one particular band of natives in the arctic area many years ago. It follows a man and a woman who are different than the rest of their clan. They don't follow the ways set down for them but go off on their own to follow their hearts. It is sad and scary and filled with insight into how the early ...more
Jane Healy
This short novel based on a Native American legend explores themes of individualism vs. clan and man's inhumanity to man. How important is family vs. following one's dreams? The main characters learn that their teachings are correct--survival is easier together, but even then it is not guaranteed.
Brandon
Jan 11, 2016 Brandon rated it it was amazing
Excellent story involving two young adults with ideas that run counter to their mainstream Athabaskan Indian culture. Full of adventure and interesting moments. Written simply and beautifully.
Christopher
Feb 25, 2014 Christopher rated it it was amazing
This was just terrific! Straying from the norm... it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. But we all have to do what we should do and be who we are. Bird Girls can fly...
Stacey Perry
I thought the book was amazing it took me into the life of the tribes at the time of hunting buffalo.
Robin Ferguson
Jun 29, 2015 Robin Ferguson rated it really liked it
Another Alaskan Indian book from Velma Wallis author of Two Old Women. Loved it!
Amy
Nov 18, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
Sad.
Aileen
Jan 09, 2014 Aileen rated it liked it
I liked this book, but it wasn't as inspiring as Two Old Women. I really liked the way that the Tlingit were portrayed in this tale. Perhaps the story would have been better just as Bird Girl. I would love to have heard this told in oral tradition.
Elaine
Sep 15, 2010 Elaine rated it really liked it
Two Alaskan Athabaskan Indian Legends are intertwined in this novel about the cost of the search for individualism, but can be the foundation for wisdom. Tragic and beautiful at the same time. Velma Wallis, was born in a remote village in Interior Alaska around Fairbanks, Fort Yukon where they survived with traditional hunting, fishing and trapping. Her book is based on stories told to her by her mother while she was growing up.
Stacey
Aug 25, 2011 Stacey rated it liked it
This was a quick, often brutal read. The Washington Post called Wallis's writing "lean and muscular," and so it is. With her prose she explores the tensions between individual and community, wandering free and feeling rooted at home. Plus, there are fascinating details about traditional Gwich'in life in Alaska, like that people wore bear grease and tasseled clothing to ward off mosquitoes in the summer.
Correen
Dec 15, 2013 Correen rated it really liked it

A painful tale of integrated Athabaskan myths, beautifully done. Wallis brings the mythology of her culture come to life. This is a story of two persons from separate bands who do not conform to their social requirements and, therefore, are not accepted by their people. Wallis takes us through the hard realities of their lives as they seek resolution and acceptance for who they are.
Sandy from Alaska Colón
Mar 07, 2015 Sandy from Alaska Colón rated it it was amazing
Couldn't put the book down. Loved it!
Megalion
Author of wonderful Alaska folk tale.
Christine
Mar 15, 2009 Christine rated it really liked it
Shelves: alaska
This book is based on two Athabaskan stories the author was told as a child. It's a quick read that I couldn't put down. I loved the story-telling format and the glimpse into the lives of the tribal people of Alaska. As with many stories told to children, there are tragic circumstances which the characters must endure and overcome. I really enjoyed it!
Shawn Buck
Aug 19, 2012 Shawn Buck rated it it was amazing
I have just started this story of Two children growing up among they're people with different wants and desires of the band of people who want to stick to the tradition of customs and beliefs from generation before. Velma Wallis put these two stories together and the the outcome was remarkable.
Barbc
Jan 15, 2014 Barbc marked it as to-read
Shelves: pamiskey4
9.5
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Velma Wallis (born 1960) is a Gwich'in Athabascan Indian and bestselling U.S. novelist. Her work has been translated into 17 languages.

She was born and raised in a remote Alaskan village near Fort Yukon, approximately 200 km north-east of Fairbanks. This location could be accessed only by riverboat, airplane, snowmobile or dogsled. Velma grew up among twelve siblings. Her father died when she was
...more
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