Island of the Blue Dolphins
by: Scott O'Dell
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound. Once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind.
This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building a shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.
Birthday dedications are when - on a follower’s birthday (so if you want yours just let me know)- I review the book of their choice. This one is for a dear family member.
I read this for the first time when I was in third grade but have come back to it several times. I love the originality of it and how it is pieced together. First of all it teaches all of the the basic skills one needs - making a fence out of whale bone, how to catch an octopus and properly gather and prepare shellfish, all things every self-respecting child needs to know. I love the stories of her daily routine and how she keeps herself alive.
One thing that really makes this novel is the fact that it is based on a true story. That was something I learned during one of my several re-readings of the book. The woman's name was Juana Maria and sadly after she was found and taken to the mainland she died in seven weeks. You can actually visit her grave at the mission of Santa Barbra in California.
After discovering that the novel - though fiction - became more to me. I loved it more because it became all the more real and wonderful. It is a great read and while it is targeted at a younger set it is fun to go back and read it again.