Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review of Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

Name of Book: Island of the Blue Dolphins

Author: Scott O'Dell

ISBN: 0-440-90042-5

Publisher: Yearling book

Type of book: Female Robinson Crusoe, Native America, 1800s, stranded, animals, taking care of self

Year it was published: 1960


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 birds abound. Once, Indians also loved on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind.

Karana is the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year she waited for a ship to rescue her. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. Hers is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.


There is only one character in the book, Karana. She does change throughout the novel and does acquire a unique point of view. She is best described as resourceful, strong, resilient, and in time independent. She is also compassionate and capable.


"Animals and birds are like people, too, though they do not talk the same or do the same things. Without them the earth would be an unhappy place." (156 of the book)


This is written in first person narrative from Karana's point of view. I have to admit that the plot wasn't much, but instead it portrayed Karana attempting to survive being alone by giving her numerous pets as well as hunting for food and so forth. The years pass endlessly and she still remains on the island.

Author Information:
(from goodreads.com)

May 23, 1898 in Los Angeles, California, The United States

October 16, 1989


Children's Books, Historical Fiction

About this author

Scott O'Dell (May 23, 1898 – October 16, 1989) was an American children's author who wrote 26 novels for youngsters, along with three adult novels and four nonfiction books. He was most famously the author of the children's novel Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960), which won the 1961 Newbery Medal as well as a number of other awards. Other award winning books by O'Dell include The King's Fifth (1966), Black Star, Bright Dawn (1988), The Black Pearl (1967), and Sing Down the Moon (1970); which were all also Newbery Honor award books. O'Dell wrote primarily historical fiction. Many of his children's novels are about historical California and Mexico.


Although the story had potential to be more interesting and more touching, there was something about it that wasn't, at least to me. I read this when I was in elementary school and I remembered little about it. It is a unique book because its loosely based on a true story and the heroine is a woman instead of a male. I can imagine that its a tough job making the novel interesting as well as coming up with interesting plots because its only one character, not many. I didn't understand a lot about the story, such as how it could still have wild dogs if it appeared small, or what about the feminine cycle that should have bothered Karana somehow. Despite these minor problems, the story still held my attention, which means that the author has done a good job. Also, where is the island located at? Is it near California or north of Alaska or what exactly? I couldn't understand the geography of the island.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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