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Island of the Blue Dolphins Paperback – February 8, 2010
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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 EditionDear 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)
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was probably one of my favorite books as a child. I have it in paperback but wanted it on Kindle to read again and again if I want. It is still a great book. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Conni4616
Island of the Blue Dolphins is an amazing, exciting, wilderness book. It's like a book from a character's perspective, but mostly teaching of different skills you use in the... Read morePublished 24 days ago by The Kid Book Reviewers
Awww, i loved this book when i was a kid. It was so colorful and really boosted my already overly imaginative brain. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great reader, and a great story! My kids and I listened to it in the car on a long drive and we felt transported into the story. The reader really makes this story come to life.Published 29 days ago by M. Grimm
Read this in grammar school and again now, 30 years later. Still a great book.Published 1 month ago by nicole m. dangoia
Great story, strength courage, well paced. Strong female role model , I highly recommend this book for girls and boys.Published 1 month ago by Robin Hunnewell