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ISLAND BLUE DOLPHIN Unknown Binding – May 2, 1996

1,440 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Scott O'Dell won the Newbery Medal for Island of the Blue Dolphins in 1961, and in 1976 the Children's Literature Association named this riveting story one of the 10 best American children's books of the past 200 years. O'Dell was inspired by the real-life story of a 12-year-old American Indian girl, Karana. The author based his book on the life of this remarkable young woman who, during the evacuation of Ghalas-at (an island off the coast of California), jumped ship to stay with her young brother who had been abandoned on the island. He died shortly thereafter, and Karana fended for herself on the island for 18 years.

O'Dell tells the miraculous story of how Karana forages on land and in the ocean, clothes herself (in a green-cormorant skirt and an otter cape on special occasions), and secures shelter. Perhaps even more startlingly, she finds strength and serenity living alone on the island. This beautiful edition of Island of the Blue Dolphins is enriched with 12 full-page watercolor paintings by Ted Lewin, illustrator of more than 100 children's books, including Ali, Child of the Desert. A gripping story of battling wild dogs and sea elephants, this simply told, suspenseful tale of survival is also an uplifting adventure of the spirit. (Ages 9 to 12) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A beautiful Indian girl stranded on an island off California makes her home with her brother while she awaits a rescue which will take years in O'Dell's moving classic story. Tantoo Cardinal's fine reading is enhanced by her background as an actress in this moving story, which comes alive in audio. -- Midwest Book Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers; Yearling Newbery edition (June 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440220211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440220213
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,440 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,202,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Scott O'Dell (1898-1989), one of the most respected authors of historical fiction, received the Newbery Medal, three Newbery Honor Medals, and the Hans Christian Andersen Author Medal, the highest international recognition for a body of work by an author of books for young readers. Some of his many books include The Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Road to Damietta, Sing Down the Moon, and The Black Pearl.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

222 of 236 people found the following review helpful By A.Trendl VINE VOICE on June 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
As a child, my grade school librarian wore out from me asking to borrow so often. Later, as a private tutor, my students chose this again and again. "Island of the Blue Dolphins" lives up to its reputation as one of the greatest children's book ever.

Libraries are good for borrowing books, but some books should be on the shelf of any young reader. Scott O'Dell's magnificent "Island of the Blue Dolphins" is just that. Save your librarian some grief and buy a copy.

"The Island of the Blue Dolphins" is not the story of a foolish young girl who missed the boat when the island was being evacuated. Far from it. Karana was on the boat. Her playful little brother, Ramo, wasn't. He was only 6 years old and could never survive alone. She jumped off and headed to shore to save him. The boat left.

Every little girl or boy has been alone, frightened without a clear way of finding his or her way home. Often, the problem is fixed by turning the next corner, finding out it is the same neighborhood it has always been. In the case of "The Island of the Blue Dolphins," Karana's home never changes. Everyone she knows and loves, however, leaves.

For 18 years Karana took care of herself, and she grows from a preteen child into a woman just entering her 30s. This is that story, filled with adventures similar to "Robinson Crusoe," another true story set to fiction. Fans of "Swiss Family Robinson," will likewise enjoy this.

Karana's ingenuity to survive is surpassed by her tenacity and hope. Weathering hard circumstances, such wild dogs, storms and the constant need to find fresh food and good water. She uses what she learned from her parents and other villagers before the left, and what she learns by trial an error.
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82 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Ursiform on January 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am old enough to have had this book read to my elementary school class when it was still fairly new. It is a book I have remembered ever since.

What is known is that in 1853 a lone woman was "rescued" from San Nicolas Island off the coast of California. The rest of her tribe had been evacuated eighteen years before, but no one who spoke her language remained after those years had passed. Thus she could tell no one her story, save the little she communicated to a priest with gestures, and she became ill and died after a few weeks.

From this bit of history Scott O'Dell imagines a life for her. It is, of course, fiction, and certainly doesn't match her real life. But he thoughtfully explores a couple of challenging topics: What happens when cultures meet and compete over resources? And how can a stranded adolescent learn to survive alone and to grow up with nothing but memories of her people and culture to guide her? It is a very touching story of loss, learning, and self-recreation. Some parts of the story I remembered these forty-some years later, and many parts I did not. But I was glad to again make my acquaintance with this book.

The writing is leisurely but engaging. It may be too slowly paced for many children today, who have grown up with frenetic action, short attention span entertainment. But surely there must still be those more contemplative young souls who will warm to this wonderful book.
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74 of 81 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you like heart breaking,touching,and sad books,you should definitely read the Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. It's about an Indian girl who gets separated from her family and is stranded on an island. Now she needs to survive.
Difficult challenges face Karana. For an example,she needs to find a way to hunt so she can eat. She makes a spear out of wood and carves a rock in a shape of a triangle and catches fish to eat. This book made me feel sad for kids who are orphans and who live on their own.
This book was so terrific the I read it in only two days! I would recommend this book to people of ages 8-150. And I think girls and boys would like this book because it is not too scary, it is just the perfect book to read. I read it, my mom read it,you should read it too.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Adi Adler on March 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Around the age of 12 - 13, this was one of my favorite books. When buying it now as a grown up, I was fascinated to discover this book was actually based on a true story.

A young girl, Karana, is living with her tribe on the Island of the Blue Dolphins (the island is apparently based off the coast of California). After increasing contact with white men (some with tragic results), the tribe is evacuated from the island. At the last moment, Karana jumps off the boat since she discovers her younger brother is left behind. The brother is killed very soon afterwards, and Karana is left to take care of herself - not only to provide herself with food & shelter, but also to fend off a pack of ild dogs wich roams the island, with the threat of unfriendly white men constantly hanging in the background.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Plume45 on September 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
After a series of violent and bizarre events, a 12-year-old native girl suddenly finds herself alone on an islet off the California coast at the dawn of the 19th century. Her people have been masacred by hostile Aleuts who arrive annually to hunt the sea otter. Their new chief manages to convince white men to return for the survivors, but she sacrifices her rescue in order to be with her little brother. When he is killed by wild dogs, Karana must face overwhleming odds of loneliness, gender ignorance and tribal tabus, in order to survive without human companionship for 18 years.
O'Dell has depicted a realistic and interesting story--one with little dialogue but which holds the reader's attention. Based on acutal fact about the Lone Woman of San Nicholas Island, this tale reveals how Karana came of age without any witnesses; she learned to rely on herself and her pet dog to keep busy, healthy, and safe from human predators. For almost two decades she carved out a life for herself on this islet, until she was ultimately rescued by Spanish missionaries. With her departure a Native American
lifestyle vanished into the mists of time, for her entire village had blended in or died out in the intervening years.

Karana battles against hunger, the ocean, wild dogs, and treacherous Aleuts, plus hostile natural phenomena. Yet she also discovers the value of friendship and man's responsibility to protect wild creatures. This is a good survival tale for boys as well as girls to read, as all humans can relate to the innate
need for socialization. It makes an excellent springboard for discussion of Native Americans, the Spanish Mission system and the fragile balance of cross-cultural shock. Karan kept faith with the Rock.
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