Island of the Blue Dolphins Info

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Newbery Medal winner Island of the Blue Dolphins is considered
one of the greatest children's books ever written. This story of
survival is as haunting and beautiful today as it was when it first
appeared in print. And now, just in time to celebrate the book's
fiftieth anniversary, Sandpiper is honored to bring a new paperback
edition of this masterpiece to the next generation. With gorgeous
packaging and an introduction by Newbery Medal winner Lois Lowry, this
version will guarantee Karana's story inspires readers for decades to
come.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Island of the Blue Dolphins:

5

Apr 12, 2007

this may be the best book for kids ever written. it teaches young girls everything they will ever need to know in their resourceful lives: how to build a fence out of whale bones, how to kill giant squids, how to alternately befriend and defend against scary wild dogs, and how to make skirts from cormorant feathers. since i got kicked out of brownies and never got to learn All The Things That Girl Scouts Learn, this book taught me how to wilderness-survive. and now i live in queens. so - not this may be the best book for kids ever written. it teaches young girls everything they will ever need to know in their resourceful lives: how to build a fence out of whale bones, how to kill giant squids, how to alternately befriend and defend against scary wild dogs, and how to make skirts from cormorant feathers. since i got kicked out of brownies and never got to learn All The Things That Girl Scouts Learn, this book taught me how to wilderness-survive. and now i live in queens. so - not much use for it, but still a book i have such a fondness for. and i have an old copy, too, where they used to make the page-ends colored. mine is green. i need to read this again. and find out why montambo doesnt like it...

come to my blog! ...more
4

Jan 24, 2018

When my defiant preteen daughter stands before me in great protest to any one of my many actions or words, she often resembles Disney's Pocahontas. She has tan skin and black hair that touches her waist and dark eyes that are kept busy with a vigilant observance of the world's injustices (and her mother's shortcomings). If she's not on horseback, then she's standing before you, holding a cat or a small rodent or a dog. (Or a strange, stuffed chinchilla).

So, when this middle child of mine When my defiant preteen daughter stands before me in great protest to any one of my many actions or words, she often resembles Disney's Pocahontas. She has tan skin and black hair that touches her waist and dark eyes that are kept busy with a vigilant observance of the world's injustices (and her mother's shortcomings). If she's not on horseback, then she's standing before you, holding a cat or a small rodent or a dog. (Or a strange, stuffed chinchilla).

So, when this middle child of mine received the Island of the Blue Dolphins for Christmas, I thought. . . how perfect. How perfect for her. She's just shy of 10, and so ready to think herself capable of being away from adults and alone on an island, stringing beads for necklaces and communing with wild dogs.

And that's about all I remembered from this 6th grade read of mine: a girl, stranded alone on an island. Wild dogs. Abalone. (Whatever in the hell I thought that was in middle school. I'm quite sure I didn't look it up in a dictionary. Yes, we used to have things in classrooms called dictionaries).

Okay, so, stranded island girl, wild dogs, abalone. . . yes, they were all there, waiting to greet me again at my return, but I had forgotten something better. . . this book's ability to provoke some thoughtful conversations.

See, this story's not so strong on character development or dialogue (does anyone even speak??), but our island girl, Karana, is faced with many predicaments. Karana's story provides many opportunities to turn to an interested tween and ask with ease, “What would you do?”

My daughter was absolutely riveted by the story, from beginning to end, and the most beautiful part for me, in this read-aloud was when the lonely Karana ends up being ushered home by a school of dolphins:

a swarm of dolphins appeared. They came swimming out of the west, but as they saw the canoe they turned around in a great circle and began to follow me. They swam up slowly and so close that I could see their eyes, which are large and the color of the ocean. Then they swam on ahead of the canoe, crossing back and forth in front of it, diving in and out, as if they were weaving a piece of cloth with their broad snouts.
Dolphins are animals of good omen. It made me happy to have them swimming around the canoe, and though my hands had begun to bleed from the chafing of the paddle, just watching them made me forget the pain. I was very lonely before they appeared, but now I felt that I had friends with me and did not feel the same.

My daughter sat up after this passage, and, with tears in her eyes, announced, “Mommy! It was the ancestors! The ancestors sent those dolphins to Karana in her darkest moment, to bring her joy. And that's what animals, do, Mommy, they bring us joy.”

And, by the story's end, Karana feels the same way, when she makes the decision to stop killing animals for their hides, feathers and teeth. The island girl realizes that the animals have been her sole companions on this long stretch of isolation and decides that “animals and birds are like people, too, though they do not talk the same or do the same things. Without them the earth would be an unhappy place.”

It is a simple story, with very little action or dialogue, but a whole lot of deep thinks and feels for those tricky preteens. ...more
4

Jun 04, 2019

It was only when I finished reading the book did I get to know that it was based on a true story. The sequel might be worth reading too.

Such tragedy followed by sweet tales worthy of Mowgli, but what indubitably would have been a life of work and loneliness. I thought that since the beginning the author wanted to share his story with people of all ages, and it shows.

Karana was a transparent character, by which I mean we know all her thoughts. Yet we don't know her reasons for her acts of mercy It was only when I finished reading the book did I get to know that it was based on a true story. The sequel might be worth reading too.

Such tragedy followed by sweet tales worthy of Mowgli, but what indubitably would have been a life of work and loneliness. I thought that since the beginning the author wanted to share his story with people of all ages, and it shows.

Karana was a transparent character, by which I mean we know all her thoughts. Yet we don't know her reasons for her acts of mercy towards the animals on the island. We do get an explanation, but still the adventures of a survivor lend themselves to tragedy, loneliness and instinct. ...more
3

Jan 23, 2017

★★☆☆☆½

If this book just so happens to be one of your childhood favorites, and you notice my rating here, you may be asking yourself, Why must I forever be soiling all the things you hold dear? Ah, thats a good question and one that I often ponder myself. But, in fairness, I didnt actually hate this story. According to the GR rating standards, two and a half stars means it was slightly better than okay, but I cant quite say that I liked it. How about I just say it was underwhelming and leave it ★★☆☆☆½

If this book just so happens to be one of your childhood favorites, and you notice my rating here, you may be asking yourself, “Why must I forever be soiling all the things you hold dear?” Ah, that’s a good question and one that I often ponder myself. But, in fairness, I didn’t actually hate this story. According to the GR rating standards, two and a half stars means it was slightly better than “okay,” but I can’t quite say that I “liked it.” How about I just say it was underwhelming and leave it at that?

The story is that of a twelve-year-old girl who, through a series of unfortunate events, winds up marooned on a deserted island. For fear of spoiling things, due to the shortness of the novel, I’ll leave out the particulars which led to her isolation.

The writing style is fairly simplistic. I walked here; I paddled there; I made this; I caught that; I built a shelter; I watched for ships; the winds blew heavy; the stars shined bright; the seasons turned; the years passed. Some of the day to day activity is rather monotonous, but she does go on a few adventures and gathers a few animal companions along the way.

One of the highlights, for me, was her battle with the devilfish. Frustratingly though, the details are scarce. What became of the devilfish after the fight, or her pet birds after the Aleutians arrived, or the dozen other nagging little questions I had that were left unanswered?

Not only are the details in short supply, but the seasons fly by at a staggering pace. Years are whisked away in a single sentence. “After two more springs had gone, on a morning of white clouds and calm seas, the ship came back.” Also, some of the terminology seemed outdated or flat out wrong. What’s this about a “swarm of dolphins?” Shouldn’t that be a pod of dolphins?—they’re not insects, man! Or, what about that “devilfish” business? That’s a rather generic term, don’t you think? Shouldn’t you specify whether it was a squid or an octopus? They’re entirely different species, for Pete’s sake!

Typically while reading, I highlight passages to use in a review or simply to save for later musings, but not so here. There was nary a passage of note which caught my eye. However, if you pause to consider that this story was written for children (at least I hope it was), with a message that empowers young girls to believe in themselves—believe that they’re more than capable of fending for themselves even in the direst situations—then I think the story deserves the benefit of the doubt and warrants the rounding up of my rating to three stars. There’s really no need to besmirch its good name any further.

Lastly, there’s an interesting author’s note at the end of the book which details the inspiration behind the story. It’s stated that O’Dell attempted to recreate the historical account of “The Lost Woman of San Nicolas” - an Indian woman from the nineteenth century who lived alone, on a small island off the coast of California for eighteen years. His story stayed true to much of the known history.

Read as part of another Non-Crunchy Cool Classic Buddy Read.
...more
4

Feb 29, 2012

Back in the '70s and early '80s teachers liked to make their students cry, and so they forced them to read books like Island of the Blue Dolphins, which is just the kind of good old fashioned heartbreaking stuff to do the trick!

It starts of great this story of a Chumash (local natives to the Santa Barbara, California area) tribe taken by surprise by fur hunters and then taken from their island, accidentally leaving behind a brother and a sister. There is sorrow a'plenty. The tale trots along, Back in the '70s and early '80s teachers liked to make their students cry, and so they forced them to read books like Island of the Blue Dolphins, which is just the kind of good old fashioned heartbreaking stuff to do the trick!

It starts of great this story of a Chumash (local natives to the Santa Barbara, California area) tribe taken by surprise by fur hunters and then taken from their island, accidentally leaving behind a brother and a sister. There is sorrow a'plenty. The tale trots along, even stepping it up to a steady canter for about the first quarter or third. Then the narrative devolves into a Robinson Crusoe style listing of things done by or to the main character, Karana, while she's stuck alone on an island. As short as Island... is, it grinds on through the middle to a dull (yet somehow still sorrowful!) finish.

I figured this weekend was as good time as any to read this while I was visiting Santa Barbara, since the real life story it's based upon happened on one of the islands just off the coast. What would've made this infinitely more compelling would've been the simple adding of motive. If O'dell has suppled Karana a fervent desire to get off the island and get back to her people, that would've given the reader something to pull for. But he did not. I don't know the real story well enough to say, but from what I recall I have a feeling the author was trying to stay true to the actual account. All I have to say for that is, leave that to the biographers and historians. You're writing fact-based fiction here, my friend. You're allowed a little leeway.

Rating Note: 3.5 ...more
4

Aug 01, 2007

Might I be bored, annoyed, or disgusted with Scott O'Dell's many works from the viewpoints of young women? If I read them now, sure, I might be.

But I SWORE BY Scott O'Dell when I was 10-12 years old, and I think that's what mattered. The girls in the books spoke to me, and they were written for me then, not for the me that is now.

I will buy his books for my younger cousins, and hope they get the sense of self and adventure that these short novels offer.
5

Aug 02, 2019

A beautiful, true survival story of a resilient young girl who was stranded alone on an island for 18 years. Karanas remarkable story is not to be missed. A story that is as enjoyable for adults as it is for older children! A beautiful, true survival story of a resilient young girl who was stranded alone on an island for 18 years. Karana’s remarkable story is not to be missed. A story that is as enjoyable for adults as it is for older children! ...more
1

Feb 08, 2009

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I never read Island of the Blue Dolphins as a child, although Im positive I wouldnt have liked it then either. As everyone in Karanas tribe is evacuating the island, she looks back and realizes her little brother has been left behind. She jumps out of the boat and swims back to the island, where they live there alone until her brother is killed. After his death, she makes friends with an otter and one of the wild dogs that may or may not have killed her brother. Of course, as the days turn into I never read Island of the Blue Dolphins as a child, although I’m positive I wouldn’t have liked it then either. As everyone in Karana’s tribe is evacuating the island, she looks back and realizes her little brother has been left behind. She jumps out of the boat and swims back to the island, where they live there alone until her brother is killed. After his death, she makes friends with an otter and one of the wild dogs that may or may not have killed her brother. Of course, as the days turn into months and the months turn into years, her animal friends move on or pass away, which only makes her even more lonely.

In his footnotes, O’Dell says Island of the Blue Dolphins is based on the “the girl Robinson Crusoe [who:] actually lived alone upon this island from 1835 to 1853, and is known to history as The Lost Woman of San Nicolas.” I cannot fathom what that life would be like, but I thought O’Dell’s interpretation was pretty boring. All the action occurred in the beginning and the remainder of the novel is spent waiting for Karana to be rescued.

Although, come to find out, being “rescued” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Karana’s entire tribe was killed when their boat sunk off the cost of present-day California, and she is unable to communicate with her rescuers, which only further plunges her into loneliness.

It’s such a sad, lonely little book that I immediately shoved aside my other books and went to go bug my family into doing something together. ...more
4

Jun 30, 2016

***Wandas Summer Carnival of Childrens Literature***

Well, this was a blast from the past! I remember reading this (probably several times) during grade 5 or 6, maybe both. Funny what I remember from those childhood readingsmy take away from it was that girls could do whatever they needed to and just as well as anyone else.

Looking at it now through adult eyes, I see a lot more of what the author was trying to do. His wildlife conservation message is thump you on the head obvious to me now. I can ***Wanda’s Summer Carnival of Children’s Literature***

Well, this was a blast from the past! I remember reading this (probably several times) during grade 5 or 6, maybe both. Funny what I remember from those childhood readings—my take away from it was that girls could do whatever they needed to and just as well as anyone else.

Looking at it now through adult eyes, I see a lot more of what the author was trying to do. His wildlife conservation message is “thump you on the head” obvious to me now. I can also admire how he took a historical fact (an Indian woman who had lived alone on a small island off the coast of California for 18 years) and filled in quite believable adventures for her to experience.

I can see where nature-loving mini-me would have been captivated by her taming of wild dogs, Western Tanagers and sea otters. Being a child with no playmates of my own age living close by our farm, I also spent a lot of time adventuring alone and could relate to her solitude.

For me, this one stood the test of time.
...more
4

Mar 19, 2014

You know a book will stay with you forever when you reread it after probably 20 years and still hear your elementary school librarian's voice in your head as you read it.
5

Nov 28, 2018

A beautifully told historical account of a strong Native American girl. Audiobook version does it justice.
4

Jul 07, 2019

Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition (Edited by Sara L. Schwebel)

Please note that for a first time perusal of Scott O'Dell's Newbery Award Winning Island of the Blue Dolphins (and this especially for children and/or teenagers), Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition should perhaps be considered rather too academically dense and advanced (although of course, if a child reader were to skip all of the supplemental inclusions, such as editor Sara L. Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition (Edited by Sara L. Schwebel)

Please note that for a first time perusal of Scott O'Dell's Newbery Award Winning Island of the Blue Dolphins (and this especially for children and/or teenagers), Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition should perhaps be considered rather too academically dense and advanced (although of course, if a child reader were to skip all of the supplemental inclusions, such as editor Sara L. Schwebel's introduction, René L. Vellanoweth's article on modern archaeology and the Lone Woman of San Nicholas and Carole Goldberg's musings on Native American issues and how she considers Island of the Blue Dolphins not so much as a novel of Native American doom, gloom and destruction but of Native American persistence and survival against the odds, Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition might still be a wonderful reading experience for younger readers, albeit that the presented text of Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition features Scott O'Dell's first edition and also includes two chapters that were excised from the commonly published versions of Island of the Blue Dolphins).

But for me as and older and yes often intensely critical reader, Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition has mostly and indeed appreciatively, fortunately been a both wonderful and enlightening reading experience, pairing Scott O'Dell's narrative (even if it is a first edition with some minor changes from the commonly published versions of Island of the Blue Dolphins) with in my opinion both interesting and also necessary detailed academic analyses regarding for example questions of how Native Americans are depicted and presented by the author, if one can and should consider main protagonist Karana a female Robinson Crusoe and how modern archaeological expeditions of San Nicholas Island have shed light on the older more anecdotal accounts about the Lone Woman of San Nicholas and Scott O'Dell's own research methods (not to mention that the detailed annotations and footnotes are an absolute academic delight and further augment and increase the learning and educational value of Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition).

Now I perused editor Sara L. Schwebel's introduction to Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition in order of its appearance, namely BEFORE I read the actual story of Island of the Blue Dolphins (which immediately follows Schwebel's introduction). And while I did debate whether I should read the actual novel text first so as not to be influenced in my reading by the content and themes of the introduction, I finally decided against this since I had read Island of the Blue Dolphins often enough in the past for me (at least in my humble opinion) not to be unduly influenced by Schwebel's analyses and considerations (but I do still leave the caveat that readers might indeed want to consider first reading the actual narrative of Island of the Blue Dolphins and then going back and tackling Sara L. Schwebel's introduction).

With regard to what is contained in and written, proposed by Sara L. Schwebel in her introduction to Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition, I do very much appreciate that while the problems with paternalism, the so-called noble savage and the supposedly disappearing, doomed Native American are featured and rather meticulously and minutely analysed (and which are definitely all present in Island of the Blue Dolphins and while I do appreciate Carole S. Goldberg calling Island of the Blue Dolphins more a story of Native American power and persistence, I do think that especially for the author, for Scott O'Dell, the doomed and vanishing Indian trope was and remains what he first and foremost had in mind), there is also fortunately not ever a demand made in the introduction to in any manner absolutely reject Island of the Blue Dolphins out of hand, to no longer have it read at school etc. (as in my opinion, especially how Native Americans are portrayed by author Scott O'Dell in Island of the Blue Dolphins is certainly and indeed a perfect discussion vehicle). And well, I have also never agreed with attitudes of across the board rejection let alone banning, censoring of literature for whatever (and even possibly good) reasons anyhow unless (perhaps and even then I tend to have my doubts) said literature is truly and utterly horrible and violently offensive (which I really and totally do not think Island of the Blue Dolphins ever can and should be considered as being, even with its problematic issues regarding how Native Americans are being depicted and presented, as really and all things considered, Karana is absolutely and utterly positively and yes lovingly, gracefully portrayed by Scott O'Dell).

And furthermore, I am also glad that in the introduction to Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition Sara L. Schwebel points out what I have personally always tended to believe with regard to Island of the Blue Dolphins, namely that while one can and should first and foremost consider the novel as a survival story, Karana is also not really in any manner a female edition of Robinson Crusoe (even if Scott O'Dell himself might have called her that). For Karana is not stranded in a strange and new world, as for her, the island is her actual home and that of course also makes her survival a bit easier, since she already is familiar with San Nicholas since her early childhood; Karana knows its flora and fauna. And indeed, Robinson Crusoe (just like many if not most of the other main characters in the so-called Robinsonades based on Daniel Defoe's original) is sadly also someone who actively tames and subjugates the island where he has been shipwrecked, where the island, its flora, fauna and yes, its potential human inhabitants are in fact always seen and described as lower, as something to be feared and then at best domesticated and subjugated (which also in my opinion does not all that much happen in Island of the Blue Dolphins either, as even when Karana gentles the wild dog Rontu, he and she become friends and companions on a pretty much equal level, not with her as master/owner and Rontu as her devoted servant so to speak).

Finally, there have also been over the years questions raised with regard to how well or how badly Scott O'Dell might have conducted his primary and secondary research about the Lone Woman of San Nicholas (on whom Island of the Blue Dolphins is based, with Karana being or at least representing the Lone Woman of San Nicholas). And while I do not think that Scott O'Dell's research was likely as thorough and as meticulous as the research done by many if not most historical fiction writers of today, after having read René L. Vellanoweth's information in Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition on recent archaeological expeditions to and finds on San Nicholas (and how they seem to mirror the older and more anecdotal 19th and early 20th century published information and accounts about the Lone Woman of San Nicholas and of which Scott O'Dell made ample use for his Island of the Blue Dolphins), I for one do tend to believe that O'Dell did a reasonable and decent enough job with what evidence there was available to him at the time (and that fabrications and embellishments seemingly were mostly used to fill in gaps that O'Dell's research did not cover or indeed perhaps showed with wrong information in the original sources). However, yes I do have both personal and linguistic, academic issues with the artificially constructed Native American language of the protagonist and how Scott O'Dell sure makes it seem in Island of the Blue Dolphins as though this is supposed to be Karana's actual mother tongue. For I know that I certainly believed the latter to have been the case as an eleven year old, when I was reading Island of the Blue Dolphins for the first time (and indeed, a totally artificial Native American language for me also kind of puts Karana and her story of survival a bit into the realm of fantasy, and thus in my opinion, Scott O'Dell probably should have used an extant Californian Islands Native American language from the same area and then mentioned in his author's note that Karana's language no longer exists but might be well related to other Native American languages of the area).

Five stars for the supplemental information included in Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition (for the enlightening introduction, the detailed annotations and the interesting articles on archaeology as well as the musings about whether Island of the Blue Dolphins could perhaps be considered more than just a tale of disappearing and doomed American Indians) and a high three star ranking for Scott O'Dell's actual story, for his narrative of Karana and her story of survival on San Nicholas Island, ergo an average ranking of four stars for Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition(as while as I have certainly enjoyed Island of the Blue Dolphins as much now as when I read it as decades ago as an eleven year old, the issues with how Native Americans are depicted, how Karana is presented by the author as being oh so noble and perhaps even a member of a disappearing and doomed people, and in particular that Scott O'Dell ended up using an artificially constructed by him language to portray Karana's mother tongue, this does indeed rather bother me a trifle, but still not all that much, as I do think that Island of the Blue Dolphins is a wonderful story in and of itself and in my opinion also absolutely and fully deserving of its Newbery Award, even though I do understand and realise that the novel is and remains somewhat controversial). ...more
5

Jun 08, 2007

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. man, fourth grade was a good year for reading! this is another one, and fed my urge to be able to survive on my own even further. this is beautiful because it's based on a true story (she leaves the island with her skirt of cormorant feathers, which is on display at mission santa barbara) and because she was alone for eighteen years, and hid from russians, and dealt with wild dogs, and the loss of her brother.

it is beautiful, haunting, and a story of survival. it's also very much a story of man, fourth grade was a good year for reading! this is another one, and fed my urge to be able to survive on my own even further. this is beautiful because it's based on a true story (she leaves the island with her skirt of cormorant feathers, which is on display at mission santa barbara) and because she was alone for eighteen years, and hid from russians, and dealt with wild dogs, and the loss of her brother.

it is beautiful, haunting, and a story of survival. it's also very much a story of california - the earthquake, the seal hunting, etc. i can appreciate now why ms. hart assigned this to us - at the time, i was simply thrilled i got to read about binding whale bones with seal sinew to make a fence. ...more
5

Jun 21, 2007

a children's book, this is my all time favorite. based on the true story of a young woman who had to survive alone on an island for more than 20 years. typical me...i love stories about strong women. i promised myself that when i "grew up," i would visit the grave-site of the woman who inspired the book. when i lived in california, i finally made my way to the mission in santa barbara where she was buried. for a moment i was able to flash back to my childhood self looking into the future...and i a children's book, this is my all time favorite. based on the true story of a young woman who had to survive alone on an island for more than 20 years. typical me...i love stories about strong women. i promised myself that when i "grew up," i would visit the grave-site of the woman who inspired the book. when i lived in california, i finally made my way to the mission in santa barbara where she was buried. for a moment i was able to flash back to my childhood self looking into the future...and i was moved that i kept the promise. ...more
5

Dec 31, 2015

This was the first book that I ever really loved. I first read it when I was about 10 or 11, and I fell in love with Scott O'Dell's writing, getting my hands on any of his books that I could find at my elementary school library. It really made me into a reader. But I hadn't read it in about a decade, and I was curious how well it would hold up to my adult mind.

IT WAS EVEN BETTER!!!

I originally rated this 4 stars, rather arbitrarily, but this reread proved that this is truly an amazing piece of This was the first book that I ever really loved. I first read it when I was about 10 or 11, and I fell in love with Scott O'Dell's writing, getting my hands on any of his books that I could find at my elementary school library. It really made me into a reader. But I hadn't read it in about a decade, and I was curious how well it would hold up to my adult mind.

IT WAS EVEN BETTER!!!

I originally rated this 4 stars, rather arbitrarily, but this reread proved that this is truly an amazing piece of historical fiction, especially for children. Even for its time, it does a great job at portraying Native American peoples in a humanizing light, as well as young girls (which is amazing, because Scott O'Dell was clearly a white adult male).

It's compelling and action-packed, and extremely educational. I really felt for Karana as she lives abandoned on an island for the majority of her life, missing her family but feeling unable to leave her home. Making new friends and losing them. Growing and changing as a woman. It's short but it's excellent, and I highly suggest it. ...more
3

May 31, 2019

I wanted to read this book for a while now, but I never had the opportunity because of time constraints. I also didn't know this was based on a real story in history. The book was very easy to read, I enjoyed it. It was at times slow and predictable, but it was an okay read for all ages. Don't expect a super book, but I would read it again, so there for it gets 3 points



This book is in the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up challenge I am doing.
5

Jul 20, 2008

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was freaking awesome. I loved it when I was a kid. All of the people on an island are leaving together one day, on a boat. I don't remember why. Anyhow, the main character's little brother got left behind on the shore. (What, they didn't think to do a head count before launching the boat?) She jumps off and swims back to be with him. The boat apparently drives only forward, and not in reverse, or they are in a really big hurry. I know this because they don't come back and get her or This book was freaking awesome. I loved it when I was a kid. All of the people on an island are leaving together one day, on a boat. I don't remember why. Anyhow, the main character's little brother got left behind on the shore. (What, they didn't think to do a head count before launching the boat?) She jumps off and swims back to be with him. The boat apparently drives only forward, and not in reverse, or they are in a really big hurry. I know this because they don't come back and get her or her brother.

They live on the island alone. Then, her brother gets eaten by wolves. (I remember thinking at this point, darn it! I bet she wishes she hadn't stayed now. If he was just going to get eaten by wolves either way, she might as well have stayed on the boat and be eating fresh sea bass right now.)

Finally, she leaves the island. I recall it being many years later. She put a bunch of paint on her face and got dressed all pretty, because she was old enough to date by then, and thought there might be a cute guy on the rescue boat or something.

If I recall, her people had disappeared and no one knew what had happened to them. Hey, maybe it wasn't such a bad thing that she missed the boat, after all!

This book was awesome. I read it several times. I can't believe how many books I read and re-read and re-re-read. I could have finished the encyclopedia by now if I'd only focused on reading new things as a kid. (By the way, I LOVED reading the encyclopedia when I was a kid. It rocks.) ...more
4

Feb 09, 2020

Classic children's, coming of age books are becoming one of my favorite genres. This is exactly what a book for children should look like - an interesting, deep, and meaningful storyline full of adventures.
I just now caught myself thinking that even though this book has few dialogues, which was important for me when I was a teen, it was easy to follow and I guess I would enjoy it the same way I enjoyed it now. I will try to find the second book in the series to follow the story of Karana.
5

Aug 03, 2007

This was the best book in my early elementary years. I remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Hendrickson, reading it to us over the course of a few weeks in serial form. I read it myself in third grade. And now, out of nostalgia (can you be nostaligic for your 8-10 year-old self?), I'm re-reading it. I remembered it as the adventurous, though sad, life of a young girl. Now it seems less about adventure and much more about the heart-breaking trials of a lonely girl, left alone and for dead.

What This was the best book in my early elementary years. I remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Hendrickson, reading it to us over the course of a few weeks in serial form. I read it myself in third grade. And now, out of nostalgia (can you be nostaligic for your 8-10 year-old self?), I'm re-reading it. I remembered it as the adventurous, though sad, life of a young girl. Now it seems less about adventure and much more about the heart-breaking trials of a lonely girl, left alone and for dead.

What the hell. Now that I realize this, I'm realizing no contemporary child will ever be allowed to read it. I'm actually shocked that I was not protected from this story... times were different, apparently. Whatever. I'm making my kids read this no matter how hard they cry. ...more
3

Oct 06, 2007

The book that I read was," Island Of The Blue Dolphins" this book was great! It is about a girl named Karana, and she is from an indian tribe, she lives on an island called," The Island Of The Blue Dolphins". Her father is the chief of the tribe, she has an older sister and younger brother. One day some people came and battled them, and her father dies. After this some more people come to their island, and try to help them, so the people gather some belongings and get on the ship. Her brother The book that I read was," Island Of The Blue Dolphins" this book was great! It is about a girl named Karana, and she is from an indian tribe, she lives on an island called," The Island Of The Blue Dolphins". Her father is the chief of the tribe, she has an older sister and younger brother. One day some people came and battled them, and her father dies. After this some more people come to their island, and try to help them, so the people gather some belongings and get on the ship. Her brother forgets something that he really needs, and goes back to their home tent, he comes back and the boat has already left, but Karana has already jumped out of the boat to be with her brother so she ends up going into the sea to look for him, but eventually she stays in the sea forgetting about her brother and hangs out with the dolphins.
The Author's purpose in this book was to show that women can do things for themselves, and women are strong, but I didn't know until I finished the book that it was a true story. The tone of the book was adventurous and mysterious, because it contained adventure on how Karana used to love when she swam with the dolphins her hair used to glow beautifully in the water when she came up for air. The book was also mysterious in a way, because the author never explained how did she end up with the dolphins and how they began to teach,nurture, and protect her from other predators. The strengths of this book is that it engages the reader's interest and paints a picture with descriptive words. My final thoughts of the book are that the author was trying to paint a picture of women being independent, and how women today are independent by working, going to school, and protecting theirself on their own. So my final thoughts of the book was that the author's message was to explain how women are independent. ...more
3

Apr 12, 2020

More than anything, it was the blue dolphins that took me back home.



I remember reading this book as a mandatory read in school, but I really thought it was longer ahah! Isn't it crazy how the simple fact that we have to do something makes us enjoy it 100 times less? Reading this book, I see it has everything I would enjoy as a child: the setting, the animals, the wilderness... I read so many books like this as a child and loved them, and yet I remember not particularly liking this one. Oh, “More than anything, it was the blue dolphins that took me back home.”



I remember reading this book as a mandatory read in school, but I really thought it was longer ahah! Isn't it crazy how the simple fact that we have to do something makes us enjoy it 100 times less? Reading this book, I see it has everything I would enjoy as a child: the setting, the animals, the wilderness... I read so many books like this as a child and loved them, and yet I remember not particularly liking this one. Oh, well, I definitely enjoyed it now as an adult. It's a short, interesting story, even though sometimes repetitive (it is based on this young woman's struggle to survive alone, and follows the cycle of seasons, mainly focusing on her efforts to care for injured animals or trying to tame them), and I was surprised to learn, at the end, that its based on a true story. This was much more fun than I expected!


...more
5

Jan 09, 2009

This is a book that I read outloud to my two older children, ages 8 and 6. We LOVED IT. Here's my 8 year old daughter's thoughts:

It's about a girl a girl who is left on an island and she has to survive by herself. She makes her own weapons and she makes her own house that she makes with whale ribs for a fence. They used seaweed to tie the whale ribs together. That was my favorite part. I liked the ending, even though there were sad parts.

From my 6 year old:
I liked about how she made weapons. I This is a book that I read outloud to my two older children, ages 8 and 6. We LOVED IT. Here's my 8 year old daughter's thoughts:

It's about a girl a girl who is left on an island and she has to survive by herself. She makes her own weapons and she makes her own house that she makes with whale ribs for a fence. They used seaweed to tie the whale ribs together. That was my favorite part. I liked the ending, even though there were sad parts.

From my 6 year old:
I liked about how she made weapons. I liked how she made friends with animals on the island.

I love when a book fits the three of us so well. The story and setting feel expertly researched and authentic. Sometimes, when we had a chapter where we learned the details of Indian life and culture, it reminded me of Little House on the Prairie, especially when we learned how to dry food or make a skirt. There was certainly a lot of adventure, more than you'd think when a girl is living on an island by herself. Whilst reading a part where some wild dogs are having a bloody battle, my son actually gasped and yelled, "THIS is AWESOME!!!"

We all liked how many animals she interacted with - and the animals were the impetus for much of the emotion in the story. During one scene with an animal, I actually teared up as I was reading aloud. Karana (the main character) is tough and resourceful and she has to deal with way too much tragedy. Yet, part of what I liked is how she never sat like a lump and wanted to give up. Things get destroyed? Rebuild. All your food washes away/gets eaten? Collect more. She was a great example to my kids and we had some really interesting discussions about the hard things she deals with. At one point (you'll know when you read it, near the beginning), I worried that maybe it would be a bit too intense, but my kids took it in stride better than I did.

I read my kids the author's notes at the end too and we had a great talk about historical fiction. My kids wanted to know specifically what was real and what wasn't (I can relate to that!) and I could tell them, thanks to O'Dell's great notes. This one was a winner for us :) ...more
2

Oct 13, 2016

Can I be honest? I read this back in school, probably in 5th or 6th grade. (At least I think I did.) I just finished it at the age of 29 and I found myself fighting to get through it. When I started it in June, I was excited but I couldn't keep up the enthusiasm past a few chapters. It was incredibly boring. It just plodded along and didn't get better. How do middle grade children get through this book? I don't think it's a classic because it truly failed to engage me. The 2 stars are for the Can I be honest? I read this back in school, probably in 5th or 6th grade. (At least I think I did.) I just finished it at the age of 29 and I found myself fighting to get through it. When I started it in June, I was excited but I couldn't keep up the enthusiasm past a few chapters. It was incredibly boring. It just plodded along and didn't get better. How do middle grade children get through this book? I don't think it's a classic because it truly failed to engage me. The 2 stars are for the relationship the MC had with the wild dog. That was the only part I enjoyed. Just being honest. ...more
4

Jan 13, 2019

Read this review and others on my blog!

Ive been slowly working my way through a pile of middle-grade and lower YA literature, all of which have held a special place in my heart at some point in time. Richard Peck, E. Nesbit, Louis Sachar, Madeline LEnglethese were the authors I grew up with, and even just a glimpse at the covers of these books bring back fuzzy, happy memories, even though I have close to no recollection about their actual contents. Reading these older books feels akin to taking Read this review and others on my blog!

I’ve been slowly working my way through a pile of middle-grade and lower YA literature, all of which have held a special place in my heart at some point in time. Richard Peck, E. Nesbit, Louis Sachar, Madeline L’Engle–these were the authors I grew up with, and even just a glimpse at the covers of these books bring back fuzzy, happy memories, even though I have close to no recollection about their actual contents. Reading these older books feels akin to taking a deep dive through my elementary school brain; this is how I came to pick up O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins.

It feels a little presumptuous to write a review for this cherished children’s classic, which sports a gold Newberry Medal on the cover and was named one of the ten best American children’s books by the Children’s Literature Association in 1976. Island of the Blue Dolphins has more than 260,000 ratings on Goodreads–what else is there to say? Well, here goes nothing.

If you are the type to enjoy a good wilderness survival story, this is the book for you. Similar to Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain, readers watch as the MC makes a life for herself in a deserted area–though in this book, the solitude is more forced upon the MC than the plucky MC from George’s series.

The straightforward, first POV prose matches the contents of the book and the MC’s character; this is a book where you feel that the MC is narrating, rather than that we are peering through her eyes, but that’s not a bad thing. To me, this writing style did make the book feel slightly old-fashioned, but just in a “this is different” way, rather than a dated way. Entire seasons pass in a sentence or two; just as the MC stops counting the years she’s been alone, so does O’Dell coax the reader to do the same, leading you to truly feel how solitary her situation is. By the time the book ends, I really wasn’t sure how old the MC was. Twenty? Thirty? Hard to say, and it doesn’t really matter, since the most memorable sections of the book are about individual moments. Befriending an otter. Fighting off wild dogs. These detached scenes from the MC’s years on the island are the true meat of the book.

This being said, I do still wish that the first POV was a tad “closer.” There were a few quick comments from the MC that caught me off guard, simply because it would have been nice to experience the scenes she described, rather than being quickly told about them. The one that I noticed most was a throwaway description when the MC is wrangling with the devilfish.

[His eyes] were the size of small stones and stood out from his head, with black rims and gold centers and in the centers a black spot, like the eyes of a spirit I had once seen on a night that rain fell and lightning forked in the sky.

The description of the spirit is so specific that you can’t help but wonder why we weren’t allowed to experience the scene with the spirit as it happened to the MC, rather than having to be told about it after the fact. How long ago did she see the spirit? What was it doing? Surely whatever she saw is just as relevant to her experience on the island as her going through the arduous, dangerous process of making food and securing shelter.

Yet these are small gripes only. Island of the Blue Dolphins is a book that has stood the test of time, and I recommend it for anyone looking to take a quick and easy mind-getaway to another time and place. ...more
3

Jun 08, 2019

3.5. I had not read this as a child so it was all new to me. I really enjoyed this story. It's very fascinating that this woman lived alone on an island for 18 years. Obviously the author knew nothing of her daily living but he did a wonderful job creating her life. Living with all of the luxuries available to us today makes it so clear to me how "easy" my life is. I would not probably not survive a year let alone 18.

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