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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.

As exciting as "Treasure Island," only with a female protagonist, the book is more than a tale of heroics. Scott O'Dell's keen sense of description separates this from the rest of the bookshelf. Although sensitive that his reader is younger, he still manages to place to reader in the story, imagining the smell of sea or hearing the not-so-far off bark of wild dogs.

Like other classics as "Old Yeller" and "My Brother Sam Is Dead," not everything comes easily to Karana. There are somber times when people leave, when her brother dies, or when things look bleak. O'Dell tells the story as realistically as he can, which makes the happy times happier.

I fully recommend "Island of the Blue Dolphins," by Scott O'Dell. It won "The Newberry Medal for Best Children's Book" for good reason.

Anthony Trendl
editor, HungarianBookstore.com
44 comments|237 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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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on October 17, 2001
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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on September 13, 2003
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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on March 5, 2005
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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on February 24, 2000
I read the book "Island of the Blue Dolphin" The author is Scott O'Dell who won the Newbery Medal for this book in 1961. He has written so many kinds of books for teenagers and is one of the most popular authors for young people. In 1976 the Children's Literature Association named this riveting story one of the ten best American children's boos of the past two handred years. The story is about a twelve-year old American Indian girl,Karana. O'Dell wrote the real-life story of that litle Indian girl. One day a ship came to take the Indians off of the island, which looks like the blue dolphin. In all the excitement, they didn't make sure that everyone was on the ship. So they didn't notice that Karana's little brother wasn't on the ship. She jumped ship to stay with her little brother, who had been abandoned on the island, but he dided shourtly thereafter, adn she had to live alone on the island for 18 years. After that she had to wait a long time for them come back and get her. So she made weapons, built shelter, found good and fought wild dogs by herself,but also she made wonderful friend to talk with. She became a very strong person during those 18 years. This story written primarily for children. So if you like books about survival adn adventure read this book. It's a good book that touches your heart. I loved it!
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on November 9, 2007
This is a very touching story based on the small amount of factual information preserved on the Lone Woman of San Nicholas Island. It has been a fantastic jumping-off point for explorations into Chumash culture and history, visits to the graveyard where the woman is buried and Santa Barbara history. O'Dell has incorporated the known facts into a well-written and engaging book, with a very touching ending, as most readers would know that the woman died some weeks after being brought to the mainland, probably because of eating food to which she was unaccustomed. Although all members of her tribe had died by the time she arrived and no one was able to speak her language, she was so happy to be among people that she welcomed many visitors before her death, communicating her stories the best she could. By all accounts she was a very sociable and pleasant woman. This book inspires children to play at "survival" games and adults to ponder European treatment of Native Americans.
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This classic was voted one of the top 10 American children's books of the last 200 years by the Children's Literature Association. Although modern readers may find it a little dated in some ways and the pacing a little slow, it's still an absorbing and beautiful story about how a resourceful Indian girl survives alone on an island off the California coast for 18 years.

The story is a lot like Robinson Crusoe only told from the girl's point of view, but that's okay. (Coincidently Crusoe was rescued after 17 years on his island, if I remember correctly).

The book is still worth reading today by young readers and O'Dell does a great job of telling this resourceful young woman's story. The story was inspired by true events, when the girl's people were evacuated from the island of Ghalas-At and she jumped ship to stay behind with her abandoned brother (who tragically dies shortly thereafter, leaving, Karana, the girl, all alone).

Overall, still a great classic and worth your child's time and effort.
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on December 27, 2000
I first read this book as a young girl in the early 60's and still gravitate towards the same copy I read in my children's elementary school library when I visit. When it was made into a movie and played at the local drive-in, I begged my parents to see it more than once. My oldest daughter, now 20, has read the book and when my youngest daughters, 5 & 7, are old enough, they'll read it also.
I'm not certain what there is about Island of the Blue Dolphins that continues to draw me back to it over and over; I find myself scanning book lists for the title even though I already own it and have read it more times than I can count. It's the one I say is my favorite when anyone asks what's your favorite book of all time. My most vivid memory of the story is the hate Karana had for the wild dogs and the ironic love she developed for one of the pups who became her companion and defender.
It's a wonderful story and belongs in every family library.
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on November 14, 1999
This book is one of the best books I have ever read. It's about an Indian girl named Karana who is stranded alone on the Island of Blue Dolphins. She learns to defend herself and make her own weapons. Island of the Blue Dolphins is sad at times, but is still an awesome story for grades 4-7. Give it a try!
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