Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Published: 1960

Genre: middle grade historical fiction

Length: 184 pages

Setting: an island off California, 1800s

Interest: It was one of my favorite books as a child and I convinced Mr. Curiosity it would make a good bedtime story.

Summary: Karana is a young woman who lives on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. One day, the Aleuts come to hunt sea otters. The island residents know the Aleuts will try to cheat them for the otter. When it comes time for the Aleuts to leave, a fight breaks out and many of the men are killed. The newly appointed chief then decides to take a canoe to the mainland in the hopes of sending a ship back to take everyone off the island. The ship arrives in a storm and everyone gets on board except Karana’s little brother. Karana jumps overboard to go to her brother and the ship leaves without them. She then has to figure out how to survive on the island by herself since her brother is killed by a pack of feral dogs. Karana ultimately tames one of the dogs for companionship and survives on the island for many years before another ship comes to the island.

Final thoughts: The book was just as good as I remembered it. Mr. Curiosity enjoyed it as well. At the end, he commented he wished she would have stayed on the island longer so the book was longer. Karana doesn’t have an easy life. Her brother is killed and she has to learn how to make weapons through trial and error. I enjoyed her determination to survive and all the plans she made to do so. I was intrigued to find this was based on the true story of Juana Maria.

This made a good bedtime read-aloud. The chapters are short, and it’s all told from Karana’s point of view, which made it easy to read. The survival aspect of living on your own was interesting, and having it told from a girl’s point of view was a welcome change of pace.

Awards won: Newbery Medal in 1961

Reading challenges fulfilled: 43/100 in my 100 Book Challenge, and a 20th century classic in the Back to the Classics Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!



Filed under Book review

2 responses to “Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

  1. This was one of my favourite books as a child, I really don’t know how many times I read it, a lot. When I was young I brought my first ‘book’ I wrote to school, my teacher read it and then let me read it to the class – as I read I realized I had plagiarized Island of the Blue Dolphins – I guess I loved it so much I’d basically copied it. Wonderful post. Thank you for the great memories.

  2. Pingback: What I Will Be Reading #25 – Middle Grade books | Fill Your Bookshelf

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.