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July 17, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

TWO OLD WOMEN: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival by Velma Wallis, illustrated by Jim Grant (HarperPerennial: $9; 140 pp.). Wallis based this brief novel on an Athabascan legend from the Fort Yukon region of Alaska. Starvation forces a migratory tribe to abandon two quarrelsome old women, who must put aside their complaining to survive the Arctic winter. Knowledge accumulated over their long lives enables the women to assemble a cache of food that later saves the tribe. This concise lesson in mutual dependence shows that to endure, humans need company, as well as food.

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