The Newberry Medal-winning story of a 12-year old girl who lives alone on a Pacific island after she leaps from a rescue ship. Isolated on the island for eighteen years, Karana forages for food, builds weapons to fight predators, clothes herself in a cormorant feathered skirt, and finds strength and peace in her seclusion. A classic tale of discovery and solitude returns to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for its 50th anniversary, with a new introduction by Lois Lowry.
Amazon Exclusive: A Letter from Lois Lowry on Writing the Introduction to Island of the Blue Dolphins, 50th Anniversary Edition
Dear Amazon readers,
Last summer, when I was asked to write an introduction to a new edition of Island of the Blue Dolphins
, my mind went back in time to the 1960s, when my children were young and it was one of their best-loved books.
But a later memory surfaced, as well, of a party I was invited to in the summer of 1979. By now the kids were grown. I was in New York to attend a convention of the American Library Association, and Scott O'Dell's publisher, Houghton Mifflin, was honoring him at a reception being held at the St. Regis Hotel. I had never met Mr. O'Dell. But because of my own children I knew his books, and I was pleased to be invited to such an illustrious event.
I was staying at a nearby hotel and planned to walk over to the party. But when I began to get dressed, I encountered a problem. I was wearing, I remember, a rose-colored crêpe de Chine dress. It buttoned up the back. I was alone in my hotel room. I buttoned the bottom buttons, and I buttoned the top buttons, but there was one button in the middle of my back that I simply couldn’t reach. It makes me laugh today, thinking about it, picturing the contortions I went through in that hotel room: twisting my arms, twisting my back, all to no avail.
The clock was ticking. The party would start soon. I had no other clothes except the casual things I'd been wearing all day and which were now wrinkled from the summer heat.
Finally I decided, The heck with it
. I left the room with the button unbuttoned and headed off. When I got in my hotel elevator, a benign-looking older couple, probably tourists from the Midwest, were already standing inside, and I explained my predicament politely and asked if they could give me a hand. The gray-haired man kindly buttoned my dress for me.
We parted company in the lobby of my hotel and off I went to the St. Regis, where I milled around and chatted with countless people, sipped wine, and waited for the guest of honor, Scott O'Dell, to be introduced. When he was, of course he turned out to be the eighty-one-year-old man who had buttoned my dress.
But wait! There's more. Ten years passed.
I had never seen Mr. O'Dell during the intervening years, but now, suddenly, we were the two speakers at a luncheon being held on a college campus somewhere. I think it may have been Vassar.
We sat next to each other at the head table, nibbling our chicken, chatting about the weather. I knew he wouldn't remember me, but I certainly remembered him, and I was secretly thinking that when it was my turn to speak, I might tell the audience the amusing little anecdote about the button on my dress. But he went first. And, eyes twinkling, he started his speech with "The last time I was with Lois Lowry, we were in a New York hotel. I was helping her get dressed." He was ninety-one at the time. All of this floated back into my mind when I found myself rereading, last summer, The Island of the Blue Dolphins
. None of it was appropriate to the book's introduction, of course, and I went on to write, instead, about the power of the story and the magnificence of the writing. Not that anyone needed reminding! There has never been a question about Scott O'Dell's brilliance as a writer and storyteller. But it's nice to have a chance, here, to tell an audience that he was also a sweet and funny man. Lois Lowry
(Photo © Neil Giordano)
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