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Island of the Blue Dolphins
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Product Description

Scott O'Dell won the Newbery Medal for Island of the Blue Dolphins in 1961, and in 1976 the Children's Literature Association named this riveting story one of the 10 best American children's books of the past 200 years. O'Dell was inspired by the real-life story of a 12-year-old American Indian girl, Karana. The author based his book on the life of this remarkable young woman who, during the evacuation of Ghalas-at (an island off the coast of California), jumped ship to stay with her young brother who had been abandoned on the island. He died shortly thereafter, and Karana fended for herself on the island for 18 years.

O'Dell tells the miraculous story of how Karana forages on land and in the ocean, clothes herself (in a green-cormorant skirt and an otter cape on special occasions), and secures shelter. Perhaps even more startlingly, she finds strength and serenity living alone on the island. This beautiful edition of Island of the Blue Dolphins is enriched with 12 full-page watercolor paintings by Ted Lewin, illustrator of more than 100 children's books, including Ali, Child of the Desert. A gripping story of battling wild dogs and sea elephants, this simply told, suspenseful tale of survival is also an uplifting adventure of the spirit. (Ages 9 to 12)

"A haunting and unusual story based on the fact that in the early 1800s an Indian girl spent 18 years alone on a rocky island far off the coast of California. . . . A quiet acceptance of fate characterizes her ordeal."--School Library Journal, starred review. William Allen White Award; ALA Notable Children's Book; 1961 Newbery Medal winner.

Customer Reviews:

  • This is one of my favorite books!
    The Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell, is about a young Indian girl, Karana, who accidently got left alone on an island with her little brother Ramo. Karana learned to survive by herself with bravery all the time believing that her people would return for her.
    The author skillfully painted pictures with words helping the reader be able to see the story in his or her head. I really admired how Karana was brave, courageous, and strong and how she never gave up even when things got scary and bad. I would like to be like her, but I felt very sorry for her having to live by herself.
    There were some really sad things that happen to Karana that children may not want to read alone at night -- especially in chapters 9 and 10. Anyone who loves adventure would love this book!
    By Siobhan O'Donnell
    Age 9...more info
  • Another Classic
    This is another classic that has been a favorite since childhood. Beautifully written with a richly inspirational storyline and a main character you can't help but love. You almost feel like you're there....more info
  • A story of survival...
    "Island of the Blue Dolphins" paints a picture in your mind when you read it. Every emotion can be found within the book's pages, especially lonliness. As the story unfolds, we see Karana overcome her lonliness by making animal friends. Reading about Karana's life and her necessary survival skills, such as building her own house and searching for her own food,inspired me and made me want to read more,

    I gave the book four out of five stars because it ends too suddenly. But, overall I recommend it to everybody, especially someone looking for a book about adventure and courage....more info
  • best book ever
    true story of a native american girl on San Nicolas island, most remote of the California channel islands-i read it in grade school and enjoyed it 30+ years later. a must read for youngsters. ...more info
  • A Quiet, Memorable Story of Survival and Persistence
    A beautiful story of a "girl Robinson Crusoe." Karana is a member of a tribe living on the island of Ghalas-at off the coast of California. When her tribe decides to leave the island with some ships, she is accidentally left behind with her younger brother, who is killed soon afterward. She builds a home for herself, befriends a wild dog, and lives alone for many years before being discovered by sailors.

    This novel is inspired by the true story of a woman who was left alone on this island for 18 years, called The Lost Woman of San Nicolas. Very little is known about her. After leaving the island, she spent the rest of her life at a Catholic mission in California, where no one spoke her language. O'Dell does incorporate what little is known about her into his story: the leap from the ship, the wild dogs, and the skirt made of cormorant feathers. He adds an encounter with an Aleut girl, and a few guesses about cultural details of her tribal tradition that may or may not be substantiated historically.

    Although the story is pure fiction, it achieved classic status because of its timeless human themes. O'Dell's heroine shows great courage in building her shelter, finding food, taming her dog, and finally revealing herself to the island's visitors. For many years she lives alone, maintaining not only her own safety and sustenance but also seeking out expressions of beauty and kindness, and caring for the animals within her sphere of influence. It is a romantic story, but one that is marked by deep loneliness. In a bittersweet ending, she leaves her lifelong home for the sake of hearing another human voice.

    This is a quiet, memorable story of survival and persistence in the face of difficult conditions and profound grief. Karana's practical means of surviving against the elements and predators are interesting in themselves, but her courage in facing hunger and danger, and living alone year after year, make her a heroine worth emulating....more info
  • good book
    I first read this book 17 years ago, so it had memories for me. Also I am crazy about dolphins so I just felt the urge to buy this book. It is a great story....more info
  • A beautiful edition!
    Even years after reading it, I still remember how this book resonated with me. The story of a young girl left alone on an island when her people are relocated seems so simple. However, the story is much deeper than that. She must find food, shelter, create tools - in short, she must survive. After reading this I finally understood the phrase, "triumph of the human spirit." She triumphed, and I imagined all the things I could accomplish if she could do that. Everyone should read this book, old and young. A true classic, in every sense of the word.

    This hardcover edition is especially beautiful, and I think the best presentation of the novel I have seen. The book has several full-page, full color illustrations throughout that will help even a reluctant reader get into the story. They are done in the same artistic style as the image on the cover. The illustrations, combined with a sturdy binding and a lovely dark blue dust jacket make for a collector quality publication. The retail price of $22 is a little high, but most stores will offer a discount that makes it worth while. Highly recommended!...more info
  • Disappointed
    The book is a good story but not what I wanted. I was looking for a story about dolphins....more info
  • Indian
    White people found her people and took them off island with lie of freedom. She escaped and remain on island with brother. Wolves eat brother. She walk alone and with a special wolf who is kind to her. one day she enter a water cave, found out the truth about her people fate. her people died and she survived. one day white people return to the island once again, she finally allow herself to join them. she became famous and she is buried in california. her clothing is in museum in Italy. wonderful story of her courage life. ...more info
  • AWESOME BOOK
    I read this book with my daughter. It was so engaging, neither of us could wait until the next day to pick it up again. A few times she couldn't wait and read ahead of me. It is unbelievable to think that this is based on a true occurrence. After we were done, we went on the internet and read more about the real woman. I wholeheartedly recommend this book. I am looking forward to reading it again with my younger daughter....more info
  • Island of the Blue Dophins
    Manuel Ruiz
    June 11, 2007

    Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O' Dell is about a girl named Karana who is the main character. Her dad is the chief and her brother is Ramo. There a village that is not that big and they're ante technology. So Karana and Ramo saw a ship and they were looking at it so they went to tell their dad. So when the people came down they told the chief that they wanted to hunt otter. So the Russian leader was telling the chief that they would divide the otter so it could be fair. The Russian leader took some otters without sharing his part so they got mad and started a fight, but it ended. So the chief was killed by the Russians and then they fled but in a few days later they came back. So they were told to leave with them so all of them got ready to leave so Karana was on the ship but she notes that Ramo wasn't there so she jumped off the ship. When she found Ramo they already were too far to catch so she lived in the village but she also berried all of the dead bodies that were around the Island. She saw a pack of wild dogs and they ran off they saw them and Ramo asked, "will the ship come back?" because he didn't want to stay in the Island. Then in the morning she was looking for Ramo so then she found him. So she made weapons so she could protect herself from those wild dogs. The weapons that she made were made of different materials because she hardly could get good material. Then Karana waited for ship but when the fist storm of winter came she new that she wasn't going to be helped. She found canoes so she saw they were old but she found one that was alright and took off but the water would get in the canoe so she just returned to the Island. So she was trying to find a place to store the food that she had so she went to a place where there was lair of the wild dogs. She made a fence of whale bones that had been washed of before the villagers left. She felt secured because the fence so when she cooked, foxes came but they couldn't get in and one day the pack of the dogs saw her tracks that she had left but she sprinted off before they saw her. So she went to the cave of the dogs and she made a fire and some dogs ran off but the leader went towards her and she killed two dogs but not the leader because she just wounded him. So she looked for him and she cured him and gave him food. Then the dog would always be in her gate waiting for her so them she named him Rontu that means fox eyes. She still looked for a ships but it seemed they forgot about her and when Rontu robbed a special fish she would talk to him but he acted like he didn't understand her. So Rontu and her set sail in a canoe and we were just seeing the Island. So then they climbed on top of a cliff and we noticed that the pack of dogs circled us and with its new leader. To be continued!

    So I thought the book was amazing and it was the best book that I ever have seen. It didn't have anything that I didn't like it was the bomb and if I could I would give it the award of the best book. So you just have to get a copy of it because you will also like this book.
    ...more info
  • What A Great Book!
    Island of the Blue Dolphins is about a girl named Karana that lives on an island the shape of a dolphin with her tribe. One day the tribe decides to leave but Karana jumps out of the boat to get her brother. Later on her brother dies and she is left all alone. Eventually she finds a wild dog called Rontu and almost at the end he dies. They had many adventures together such as fighting off the devil fish and finding a cave there ancestors had died. There was one part that really got me going, it was when she needed to kill the devil fish. She had speared it but it started to get away. It grabbed Rontu and he was being dragged under water. Karana rushed into action and pried Rontu free and in the end the devil fish was dead and Rontu was finally safe. This was a great book and Scott O' Dell was a genius for writing it. I give this book a 5 for being so creative and just being a great book for me I loved it!...more info
  • Alone on the Island of the Blue Dolphins
    This book is called Island of the Blue Dolphins, written by Scott O' Dell. The story is about the survival of a young Indian girl, named Karana, who when left stranded alone on her people's island, must learn to live by herself. The author wrote this book from the point of view of Karana. So the reader experiences the story very personally, almost as if you were there.
    The book begins when Karana's people are attacked by a foreign tribe named the Aleuts. In the battle over food Karana's father, their tribal chief is killed along with many of her elders. But then after a period of time, a boat, which comes to take them away, rescues the survivors. But Karana has to stay when her brother is left behind. After her brother, Ramo is killed by a pack of wild dogs; Karana is truly alone on the island of the Blue Dolphins. The rest of the book describes the adventures and challenges Karana encounters, while trying to survive. She must build a home for shelter, find and prepare food, and protect herself from potential enemies. Alone, Karana finds companionship with many of the animals of the island.
    The author wrote this extraordinary book in many months because he paid so much attention to the details of each and every moment in this book. This author's style is very realistic and true to life. He has an ability to describe nature in a way that is as vivid as a photograph. He also creates tension and suspense out of every day events. The book gives readers an understanding and appreciation for a more primitive way of life. Scott O' Dell wrote this book for a level of fifth-seventh grade. I personally enjoyed this book for its creativity and the way it captured this girl's life alone. Although this story is very simple, you are always left wondering what will happen next.

    By, Sonia, a 6th grade middle school student....more info
  • A Tough Girl who finds Out Everyone is the same in Some Way
    This review was assigned by my 7th grade Humanities teacher
    I liked this book, it was written very well. I liked that the author made the characters seem so real like you weren't reading it but you were actually seeing it happen. I also liked that when he wrote it he based it on a real island. The only thing I didn't like about the book was the ending, I didn't like the ending because the author crammed important details into the book and didn't explain what happened with those important details. I rated the book a 4 because over all the book was pretty good until I got to the last couple pages, because he crammed important details in the book that weren't explained. I would recommend this book from the grades 3rd to 8th grade, because I asked a good amount of people who read it and the ages were in between those grades. I think If a 1st or 2nd grader read this book that it the words would be too hard for them to read and they would stumble and not understand it. If a 9th grader through the adult ages read it they would zip right thru it.
    ...more info
  • Written with little feeling or emotion
    When I read a young adult book I don't expect it to be written heavy-handedly or with lots of metaphors, but when I read any book I expect some level of characterization and sense of time. Unfortunately, Scott O'Dell's prose is so bereft of any emotion that "terse" and "austere" seem about as fitting as "purple" and "flowery." The main character, Karana, spends 18 years marooned on San Nicholas Island. Read that again: *eighteen years*. I've only been alive for 20; that amount of isolation is beyond my comprehension. Yet she only shows a hint of loneliness when (after at least 10 years by herself) she befriends a girl who is only staying on the island temporarily. I don't require Karana to make deep, introspective looks into her own soul, but a little lip-service to solitude might be nice. Papillon was nearly driven insane by 3 years of solitary confinement and this girl can handle 18 years alone on an island with only a few momentary tremors of longing?

    Even aside from loneliness I wanted Karana to merely express some feeling about anything. The first-person narrative merely serves as a clothesline to string 18 years of activity on: "Then I made a fence out of whalebones...then I domesticated a dog...then I went hunting for elephant seal...then I went hunting for devilfish...then I decided not to hunt devilfish anymore." Does she miss her parents or brother? Does she beleive in some form of religion? Does she wish her diet had more greens in it because she thinks her legs aren't muscly enough? I wished she could have expressed some feeling, something aside from "Fought the dogs again, killed three but not the leader. I need a stronger bow." The book reads more like a journal than a novel.

    Overall O'Dell's novel simply isn't very compelling or interesting. I suppose there aren't many other survival novels with female protagonists, but beyond that this novel has little going for it....more info
  • The Island of the Blue Dolphins
    The Island of the Blue Dolphins is a book by Scott O' dell. My name is Alex and I am a sixth grader. This was an okay book but it wasn't as action filled as I had hopped.
    The book starts out as a little tribe of Ghalas-at living on an island by their self that they call "The Island of the Blue dolphins." Shortly after the book starts a tribe called the Aleuts come on the island and want to hunt the sea otters that live around the island. The chief of Ghalas-at, who is the main character, Karana's, dad allows the tribe to hunt. After the Aleuts leave the tribe sails off to the east, but Karana and her younger brother Ramo get left behind. The day that the ship left Ramo gets killed by wild dogs, leaving Karana alone on the island. She felt very alone until the day that she found a wild dog wounded by the other wild dogs. She makes friends with this dog and names it Rontu. Many moths after she finds Rontu, the Aleuts come back to the island. She manages to not be seen most of the time until a young girl finds her and they become friends. Does Karana ever reunite with her family? You will have to read the book to find out.
    This story was told from the characters perspective. The style of the writing was all right and I think that Scott O' Dell told this story well. In this book not many exciting things happened, so at times I was very bored with this book. I thought that the author could have been more creative and thought of some more exciting things to happen in this novel. Because of this I gave the book three out of five stars. I like that the story was told from the main characters perspective because it felt like she was telling you her feelings and it made it more realistic than if it was told from the view of a narrator. In my opinion I would have rather read a more exciting novel than this one. I think that this is a book for a fourth through sixth grader.
    by,
    Alex
    ...more info
  • Blast from my Past
    When I was a kid, 'Island of the Blue Dolphins' was one of my favorite books. It's a story about the trials of a young Aluet girl who gets stranded. I recently ordered from Amazon and reread. As wonderful a story as a remembered!!...more info
  • Walked in her Footprints
    Even as a child I read a lot. My parents were teachers. Everyone at my house read a lot. I didn't mind a lot being assigned a book not of my own choosing (except for "Call of the Wild"...I still haven't finished THAT one.....It's hard to read through torrents of tears while sobbing uncontrollably {I guess this part would be more appropriate under THAT books review})
    Anyhow, I probably read "The Island of the Blue Dolphin" 4 times before I found myself actually living on that island in 1980 while in the Navy.
    I was there for 3 years. Half of the island is a sanctuary for sea birds and sea elephants (they are deafeningly loud!) and the other half is a Naval Facility. I felt a connection to the island because of Karana and her story. I felt like I was walking where she had walked. No one else there had ever heard of the story or the book (where the heck did THEY go to school!). There was a very small monument (if that's what you want to call it) with her name, her face, and a short synopsis of her story. No one else felt it.
    I looked for landmarks that were in the book. There's lots of caves and such. Some things seemed right out of the book. Some things maybe not.
    Anyhow, I loved being "with Karana" for a while. I'll never forgrt it.
    Not to mention that the book is FABULOUS even if you never go to
    San Nichols Island....more info
  • Island of the Blye Dolpfins

    Hi my name is Maggie, I'm a 6th grader. I read the book called Island of the Blue Dolphins. The author of this book was Scott O'Dell. If you're interested in adventure then I recommend this book for you.


    Island of the Blue Dolphins is about, a young girl named Karana. Karana is an Indian, who was left behind on an island, with her younger brother Rontu. Karana had to learn to live by herself, after her brother had died. She had to learn how to make a shelter. Karana had to learn how to catch fish, and how to make weapons. She encounters wild dogs, and hunters who come to kill otter. After about a year Karana befriends one of the wild dogs, which she names Rontu after her brother. When men from another land come to take her back to their land, Karana doesn't know what to do. Will Karana go with them or stay on the island where she has lived since she was born? Find out if you read Island of the Blue Dolphins!


    I loved the great description that Scott O'Dell put in his book Island of the Blue Dolphins. I could really picture an island shaped like a dolphin. Scott O'Dell chose words that almost anyone can understand. The characters were wonderful, they made me want to keep reading and reading. It was an interesting story of survival. ...more info
  • The Good Times and the Bad Times
    This review was a class assignment that our 7th grade Humanities teacher gave us.
    I liked the book a lot because it was really interesting and it makes you want to keep reading. It also was at a real setting or as in (plot). Plus it captures you too!
    I rated my book 4 stars because it wasn't perfect and it wasn't bad either. Altogether it was a pretty good book. It was also very exciting and not boring.
    I would recommend this book to a 4th or 5th grader because it may not capture younger kids or older kids. For younger kids they may not pay attention and for older kids it may be to boring.
    ...more info
  • Island of The Blue Dolphins Review
    Island of the Blue Dolphin is about a girl named Karana. The book starts out with her and her brotherRamopicking grass and other things from the ground. Karana sees a ship coming close the island but does not tell her brother. When the chief of the tribe, Karana's dadChowing, sees the boat, he goes to the dock to greet the people. The Captain of the boat was named Captain Orlov. Captain Orlov is from Russia and is part of the Aleut expedition. Chowing at first does not want them on the island because one time in the past, the Aleuts caused trouble. Finally, they agree the Aleuts can stay if they give Chowing and the rest of the people have of what they earn in jewelry and iron sheep heads. When Chowing asks for there payment, the Aleuts don't give it to them and they start to fight. Many people were killed in the fight including Chowing. Later, The people of Ghalas-at, also the island of the blue dolphin, choose a new leader. The leader, Kimki, goes and tries to find another place for his people to go. When he comes back, he said he found a place. The people of Ghalas-at went on a boat to go there but Karana could not find Ramo. She remembered that he was going back to get his hunting spear so she jumps into the water and swims back to the island and stays there with Ramo. To find out what happens next, you have to read the book.
    This book was good but in some parts it felt like it took to long to get to the point. Other than that, it was a really good book. I would recommend this book because it book has a lot of description and it has a lot of different characters from different places. The book is a little sad because the people that are really close to Karana go away somehow. I would give this book Four Stars.
    ...more info
  • Karana's Survival on the Island of the Blue Dolphins!
    My name is Genevieve and I am a 6th grade reader. I have read many other O'Dell books but none like this one. I like books that are adventures and fun this one was both!

    This book is about a girl named Karana who lives on an Island called Island of the Blue Dolphins. Karana lives on this island with her family, her sister, her brother, and her father who is the chief of her tribe. White men come to trade and that turned into a fight which many of Karana's people. Karana and the rest of her tribe pick a new leader how soon after goes away in a boat and they have to pick a new leader. Soon another white man's ship is spotted and they are all going to live with their old chief. The ship leaves without Rama, Karana's brother, and she dives into the water to get him. Rama soon is killed and Karana is on her own. She learns to survive on the Island and makes some new friends along the way. She has to live on the Island alone with the wild dogs and soon she tames one of the dogs and some birds.

    This book was really good I would recommend it to 6-14 grade readers. If you love books with adventure this is the book for you. I loved it!
    ...more info
  • Determination to Survive
    It is the 1800s and Karana, an Indian girl, lives with her tribe on a warm island called the Island of the Blue Dolphins. The lives of the people in her tribe are mostly peaceful, but over the years they have had some problems. A group of Russians occasionally comes to their island to camp and hunt the otter that live right off the coast. The last time they came, they treated the people of the island badly.

    Now Karana is twelve and her father is the chief of their tribe and the Russians have come again to hunt. They promise things will be better this time and Karana's father reluctantly agrees to let them stay and hunt, for a price. At the end of their time hunting, though, the Russians try to get away without paying the fair price for the otter they have hunted. A battle ensues, and most of the men of the tribe, including Karana's father, are killed before the Russians get away.

    When the rest of Karana's tribe leaves to find help, Karana finds herself in a position where she has to fight to survive until someone returns for her.

    I liked Karana's determination to stay alive and the fact that she never gave up, even when she worried the ship would never come back for her. Some parts of this book got boring, though, especially when long stretches of time passed when nothing new was happening. Karana spent a lot of time gathering food, which wasn't very exciting....more info
  • Another Newberry Award by O'Dell
    Could you live on an island alone for 18 years? This is what the indian girl Karana did in the Island of the Blue Dolphins. While she waits for a ship to return she has to make shelter,find food,build weapons,and fight wild dogs.
    Scott O' Dell wrote this book to try to tell the story of Karana. It is a historical fiction novel. Anyone that likes history or adventure should like this book.
    It's the best historical fiction book I've read. It's amazing,not many people could do what Karana did. ...more info
  • IOBD STINKS!
    This book is a teachers' pet, meaning every teacher makes kids read it. The book has good material, but there is no storyline, it's just random events that don't lead up to anything. Karana shows no emotion even tough everything around her dies or leaves her.

    SPOILER ALERT!!!:::
    Ending is horrible because Karana leaves the island, which is just dumb.

    Stay away from this book....more info
  • A rare gem that everyone should read
    This book is one of those rare books that makes you see your whole world in a different way. Things that seem so important like checking your email or getting a new outfit, pale in comparison to the life Karana was able to lead. Without a complaint or a whimper, she found a way to live on the island by herself for so many years.

    I was truly overwhelmed by her physical and mental strength. Then to find out that this was the fictionalized story of a real human being made it feel so much more awe-inspiring. Karana is a true role model for people of all ages.

    Although this story is about a girl, I recommend this book to both boys and girls. I think that the things that she did to survive will impress both genders. I also think that it is an important story to read as a way of putting a priority on the precious things in life.

    I had the opportunity to read this book when I was young but never did. I'm sorry that I waited so long. This is a beautiful and well-written book. The author's extensive research paid off in the plethora of detail that helped us to feel like we were on the island with Karana. I'm sure I will read it many times over and learn something new with each reading.
    ...more info
  • Will Anyone Remember Kanara?
    My name is Susie and I am a sixth grade student. I enjoy reading mostly long books as so to keep the adventure alive. This book was a book that inspired me to read all books regardless of the size.

    Kanara is a young girl around my age who lives on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Their lives, so happy are torn by the Aleut indians, fishermen, and the death of the cheif (Kanara's father). When a new cheif is elected he decides that the only answer is to abandon the island. By an un-lucky turn, Kanara is left behind. You will be taken into the world of young Kanara as she lives the death of a family member, a friend, yet also the joining of new people and animals you will never forget. Alone, Kanara faces challenges that no one expected to come up. She does things to survive that people in her tribe would be punished for. Kanara even turns a foe to friend.

    Experience Kanara's journey like I did through her eyes. You will learn the lessons she learned and more in a short novel that will take you off your feet and away. Adventure awaits you. I would rate this book at 5 stars because it is one of the best books ever written. As long as you can read, this book applies to you. Whether in second grade or eleventh, this book will be the adventure of a life time. ...more info