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Island of the Blue Dolphins #1

Island of the Blue Dolphins

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An alternate cover edition can be found here

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

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

184 pages, Paperback

First published September 9, 1960

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About the author

Scott O'Dell

88 books715 followers
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.

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5 stars
107,891 (33%)
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3 stars
76,363 (23%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,558 reviews
Profile Image for Federico DN.
357 reviews624 followers
February 3, 2023
Forever Rontu.

19tth century. Karana is a young indian from a small village living in a remote place; San Nicolas, the island of the blue dolphins. A little islet with mountain, forest, animals, fish and birds everywhere. In her community, with her family or alone, Karana learns to survive in a small land secluded from the rest of the world. But even a seemingly paradisiac island, with all its amazing beauties, has its dangers. Mainly, strangers coming from distant lands.

Something like a mixture between “Robinson Crusoe” and “The Blue Lagoon”, but different from either. Simply excellent, perfect in every way. Beautifully heartwarming, and exquisitely heart wrenching. Very easy to read. LOVED Karana and her devotion for all the animals in the island. Amazing character development. And with a powerful message about survival and love for nature. Innumerable moments and quotes to remember by. I keep forever within my heart that beautiful friendship and enmity between Karana and Rontu. An unforgettable Middle Grade novel, and one of my most cherished memories in my reader’s life. A timeless classic, and justly lauded. Extremely recommendable.

[1960] [194p] [Middle Grade] [EXTREMELY Recommendable] [“…still I would have felt the same way, for animals and birds are like people too, though they do no talk the same or do the same things. Without them the earth would be an unhappy place.”]

Rontu Por Siempre.

Siglo XIX. Karana es una joven india de una pequeña aldea viviendo en un remoto lugar; San Nicolás, la isla de los delfines azules. Un pequeño islote con montaña, selva, animales, peces y aves por doquier. En su comunidad, con su familia o en soledad, Karana aprende a sobrevivir en un rincón de tierra aislado del mundo. Pero incluso una isla aparentemente paradisíaca, con todas sus increíbles bellezas, posee sus peligros. Principalmente, extraños que llegan de tierras distantes.

Algo así como una mezcla entre “Robinson Crusoe” y “La laguna azul”, pero distinta de ambas. Simplemente excelente, perfecta en todo sentido. Hermosamente cálida, y exquisitamente dolorosa. Muy facil de leer. AME a Karana y su amor por todos los animales de la isla. Increíble desarrollo de personaje. Y con un mensaje poderoso sobre la supervivencia y el amor por la naturaleza. Innumerables momentos y citas para el recuerdo. Y llevo siempre en el corazón esa hermosa amistad y enemistad entre Karana y Rontu. Una inolvidable novela Grado Medio, y uno de mis más preciados recuerdos de toda mi vida lectora. Un clásico inmortal, y justamente laureado. Extremadamente recomendable.

[1960] [194p] [Grado Medio] [EXTREMADAMENTE Recomendable] [“…aún me hubiera sentido de la misma forma, porque animales y pájaros son como las personas, aunque no hablen igual o hagan las mismas cosas. Sin ellas esta tierra sería un lugar triste.”]
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
June 26, 2018
this may be the best book for kids ever written. it teaches young girls everything they will ever need to know in their resourceful lives: how to build a fence out of whale bones, how to kill giant squids, how to alternately befriend and defend against scary wild dogs, and how to make skirts from cormorant feathers. since i got kicked out of brownies and never got to learn All The Things That Girl Scouts Learn, this book taught me how to wilderness-survive. and now i live in queens. so - not much use for it, but still a book i have such a fondness for. and i have an old copy, too, where they used to make the page-ends colored. mine is green. i need to read this again. and find out why montambo doesnt like it...

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Julie G .
884 reviews2,756 followers
January 25, 2018
When my defiant preteen daughter stands before me in great protest to any one of my many actions or words, she often resembles Disney's Pocahontas. She has tan skin and black hair that touches her waist and dark eyes that are kept busy with a vigilant observance of the world's injustices (and her mother's shortcomings). If she's not on horseback, then she's standing before you, holding a cat or a small rodent or a dog. (Or a strange, stuffed chinchilla).

So, when this middle child of mine received the Island of the Blue Dolphins for Christmas, I thought. . . how perfect. How perfect for her. She's just shy of 10, and so ready to think herself capable of being away from adults and alone on an island, stringing beads for necklaces and communing with wild dogs.

And that's about all I remembered from this 6th grade read of mine: a girl, stranded alone on an island. Wild dogs. Abalone. (Whatever in the hell I thought that was in middle school. I'm quite sure I didn't look it up in a dictionary. Yes, we used to have things in classrooms called dictionaries).

Okay, so, stranded island girl, wild dogs, abalone. . . yes, they were all there, waiting to greet me again at my return, but I had forgotten something better. . . this book's ability to provoke some thoughtful conversations.

See, this story's not so strong on character development or dialogue (does anyone even speak??), but our island girl, Karana, is faced with many predicaments. Karana's story provides many opportunities to turn to an interested tween and ask with ease, “What would you do?”

My daughter was absolutely riveted by the story, from beginning to end, and the most beautiful part for me, in this read-aloud was when the lonely Karana ends up being ushered home by a school of dolphins:

a swarm of dolphins appeared. They came swimming out of the west, but as they saw the canoe they turned around in a great circle and began to follow me. They swam up slowly and so close that I could see their eyes, which are large and the color of the ocean. Then they swam on ahead of the canoe, crossing back and forth in front of it, diving in and out, as if they were weaving a piece of cloth with their broad snouts.
Dolphins are animals of good omen. It made me happy to have them swimming around the canoe, and though my hands had begun to bleed from the chafing of the paddle, just watching them made me forget the pain. I was very lonely before they appeared, but now I felt that I had friends with me and did not feel the same

My daughter sat up after this passage, and, with tears in her eyes, announced, “Mommy! It was the ancestors! The ancestors sent those dolphins to Karana in her darkest moment, to bring her joy. And that's what animals, do, Mommy, they bring us joy.”

And, by the story's end, Karana feels the same way, when she makes the decision to stop killing animals for their hides, feathers and teeth. The island girl realizes that the animals have been her sole companions on this long stretch of isolation and decides that “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.”

It is a simple story, with very little action or dialogue, but a whole lot of deep thinks and feels for those tricky preteens.
Profile Image for Luffy.
862 reviews722 followers
June 6, 2019
It was only when I finished reading the book did I get to know that it was based on a true story. The sequel might be worth reading too.

Such tragedy followed by sweet tales worthy of Mowgli, but what indubitably would have been a life of work and loneliness. I thought that since the beginning the author wanted to share his story with people of all ages, and it shows.

Karana was a transparent character, by which I mean we know all her thoughts. Yet we don't know her reasons for her acts of mercy towards the animals on the island. We do get an explanation, but still the adventures of a survivor lend themselves to tragedy, loneliness and instinct.
Profile Image for  ⊱ Sonja ⊰ ❤️.
2,298 reviews410 followers
November 15, 2022
Ein zeitloses Kinder- und Jugendbuch für Leser ab acht.
Es geht um das Mädchen Won-a-pa-lei, das durch unglückliche Umstände alleine auf einer unbewohnten Insel mitten im Pazifik zurückbleibt. Hier muss sie nun um ihr Überleben kämpfen, sich eine Höhle bauen, Nahrung beschaffen und sich auch gegen wilde Tiere zur Wehr setzen...
Die Geschichte dieses Mädchens hat mich sehr berührt und fasziniert, zumal das Buch wohl auf wahren Begebenheiten beruht.
Auch ist es eine zeitlose Geschichte. Das Buch hat bereits 1963 den Deutschen Literaturpreis gewonnen.
Won-a-pa-lei hat mich beeindruckt. Sie hat eine so ruhige und ausgeglichene Art und zudem unglaublich viel Geduld bewiesen im Umgang mit den Tieren. Es war einfach schön, zu lesen!
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
September 27, 2021
Island of the Blue Dolphins (Island of the Blue Dolphins #1), Scott O'Dell

Island of the Blue Dolphins is a 1960 children's novel by American writer Scott O'Dell.

Island of the Blue Dolphins tells the story of a 12-year-old girl named Karana, who is stranded alone for years on an island off the California coast.

It is based on the true story of Juana Maria, a Nicoleño Native American left alone for 18 years on San Nicolas Island during the 19th century.

The main character is a Nicoleño girl named Won-a-pa-lei, whose secret name is Karana.

She has a brother named Ramo, whose curiosity usually leads to trouble, and a sister named Ulape.

Her people live in a village called Ghalas-at and the tribe survives by gathering roots and fishing.

One day, a ship of Russian fur hunters and Aleut people led by Captain Orlov arrive and persuade the Nicoleños to let them hunt sea otter in exchange for other goods.

However, the Russians attempt to swindle the islanders by leaving without paying.

When they are confronted by Karana's father Chief Chowig, a battle breaks out.

Karana's father and many other men in the tribe died in battle against the well-armed Russians, who escaped largely unscathed. ...

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «ج‍زی‍ره‌ دل‍ف‍ی‍ن‍ه‍ای‌ آب‍ی‌رن‍گ‌»؛ «ج‍زی‍ره‌ دل‍ف‍ی‍ن‌ه‍ای‌ آب‍ی‌»؛ نویسنده: اس‍ک‍ات‌ اودل‌‏‫؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش سال 1974میلادی

عنوان: ج‍زی‍ره‌ دل‍ف‍ی‍ن‍ه‍ای‌ آب‍ی‌رن‍گ‌؛ نویسنده: اس‍ک‍ات‌ اودل‌‏‫؛ مت‍رج‍م م‍ن‍وچ‍ه‍ر آت‍ش‍ی‌؛ تهران، امیرکبیر، کتابهای جیبی، انتشارات فرانکلین، 1350، در 198ص؛ چاپ دوم 1353؛ چاپ سوم 1379؛ ‬چاپ چهارم 1395؛ شابک 9786001216602؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

عنوان: ج‍زی‍ره‌ دل‍ف‍ی‍ن‌ه‍ای‌ آب‍ی‌؛ نویسنده: اس‍ک‍ات‌ ادل‌‏‫؛ ت‍رج‍م‍ه‌ پ‍روی‍ن‌ (ف‍اطم‍ه‌) ع‍ل‍ی‌پ‍ور؛ تهران، نشر چشمه، 1378؛ در 172ص؛ شابک 9645571243؛‬

عنوان: ج‍زی‍ره‌ دل‍ف‍ی‍ن‌ه‍ای‌ آب‍ی‌؛ نویسنده: اس‍ک‍ات‌ اودل‌‏‫؛ مت‍رج‍م ن‍س‍ی‍م‌ س‍ل‍طان‌زاده‌؛ تهران، نگاه معاصر، روشنا؛ 1385؛ در 181ص؛ شابک9647763492؛ چاپ دوم 1386؛‬

شخصیت داستان، دختری به نام «کارانا» است، که برادری به نام «رامو» دارد، کنجکاوی آنها هماره سرانجامش مشکلی به بار میآورد، مردمان قبیله ی او در روستایی به نام «چلسی» زندگی میکنند، و ریشه ی درخت و ماهی گردآوری میکنند، روزی، کشتی «التس» زیر فرمان ناخدای «روسی» به نام «اورلوف»، وارد شد و ناخدا از شهروندان خواست تا به آنها اجازه دهند، در ازای خرید دیگر اجناس، آنها «سمور دریایی» شکار کنند، اما او مردمان جزیره را فریب داد، و آنها را بدون پرداخت پول ترک کرد، هنگامی که آنها با پدر «کارانا» روبرو شدند، نبردی آغاز شد و جان بسیاری از هر دو سوی نبرد از دست رفت؛ در اقیانوس آرا��، جزیره ای به شکل ماهی بزرگی وجود دارد، که انگار در دریا دلمشغول آفتاب گرفتن است، در پیرامون این جزیره، هماره «دلفینهای آبی» شنا میکنند، و «سمورهای دریایی» نیز به بازی دلمشغولند، و «فیلهای آبی» و پرندگان نیز، به فراوانی یافت میشوند؛ روزگاری، بومیان هم در آن جزیره زندگی میکردند؛ زمانی که آنها جزیره را به سوی شرق ترک کردند، دختری کم سن و سال در جزیره جا ماند؛ کتاب «جزیره ی دلفین های آبی»، داستان دختری بومی به نام «کارانا» را بازگو میکند، که سالها به تنهایی در جزیره ای زندگی میکرده، او در گذر چندین سال، شاهد گذر فصلها یکی ��س از آن دیگری بوده، و او هماره در انتظار کشتی ای را بود، تا او را نیز با خود ببرد، اما «کارانا» در زمان چشم به راه بودن، با ساختن سرپناه و سلاح، و یافتن غذا، و مبارزه با سگهای وحشی، خود را زنده نگاه میدارد؛ رمان «جزیره دلفینهای آبی رنگ»، نه تنها ماجراجویی برای زنده ماندن، بلکه حکایتی درباره ی زیباییهای طبیعت و اکتشافات درونی نیز هست

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 04/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Ɗẳɳ  2.☊.
159 reviews293 followers
July 28, 2020

If this book just so happens to be one of your childhood favorites, and you notice my rating here, you may be asking yourself, “Why must I forever be soiling all the things you hold dear?” Ah, that’s a good question and one that I often ponder myself. But, in fairness, I didn’t actually hate this story. According to the GR rating, two and a half stars means it was slightly better than “okay,” but I can’t quite say that I “liked it.” How about I just say it was underwhelming and leave it at that?

The story is that of a twelve-year-old girl who, through a series of unfortunate events, winds up marooned on a deserted island. For fear of spoiling things due to the shortness of the novel, I’ll leave out the particulars which led to her isolation.

The writing style is fairly simplistic. I walked here; I paddled there; I made this; I caught that; I built a shelter; I watched for ships; the winds blew heavy; the stars shined bright; the seasons turned; the years passed. And some of the day to day activity was rather monotonous, but she had a few fun adventures and gathered up a few animal companions along the way.

One of the highlights, for me, was her battle with the devilfish. Frustratingly though, the details were scarce. What became of the devilfish after the fight, or her pet birds after the Aleutians arrived, or the dozen other nagging little questions I had that were never answered?

Not only were the details in short supply, but the seasons flew by at a staggering pace. Years were whisked away in a single sentence. “After two more springs had gone, on a morning of white clouds and calm seas, the ship came back.” And some of the terminologies seemed outdated or flat out wrong. What was that about a “swarm of dolphins?” I believe a group of dolphins is known as a pod—they’re not insects, man! Or, what about that “devilfish” business? That’s a rather generic term, don’t you think? Shouldn’t you specify whether it was a squid or an octopus? They’re entirely different species, for Pete’s sake!

Typically while reading, I highlight passages to use in a review or simply to save for later musings, but not so here. There was nary a passage of note which caught my eye. However, if you pause to consider that this story was written for children (at least I hope it was), with a message to empower young girls to believe in themselves—believe that they’re more than capable of fending for themselves even in the direst of situations—then I think the story deserves the benefit of the doubt and warrants the rounding up of my rating to three stars. There’s really no need to besmirch its good name any further.

Lastly, there was an interesting author’s note at the end of the book which details the inspiration behind the story. It’s stated that O’Dell attempted to recreate the historical account of “The Lost Woman of San Nicolas” - an Indian woman from the nineteenth century who lived alone, on a small island off the coast of California for eighteen years. His story stayed true to much of the known history.

Read as part of another Non-Crunchy Cool Classic Buddy Read.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,228 followers
November 17, 2013
Back in the '70s and early '80s teachers liked to make their students cry, and so they forced them to read books like Island of the Blue Dolphins, which is just the kind of good old fashioned heartbreaking stuff to do the trick!

It starts of great this story of a Chumash (local natives to the Santa Barbara, California area) tribe taken by surprise by fur hunters and then taken from their island, accidentally leaving behind a brother and a sister. There is sorrow a'plenty. The tale trots along, even stepping it up to a steady canter for about the first quarter or third. Then the narrative devolves into a Robinson Crusoe style listing of things done by or to the main character, Karana, while she's stuck alone on an island. As short as Island... is, it grinds on through the middle to a dull (yet somehow still sorrowful!) finish.

I figured this weekend was as good time as any to read this while I was visiting Santa Barbara, since the real life story it's based upon happened on one of the islands just off the coast. What would've made this infinitely more compelling would've been the simple adding of motive. If O'dell has suppled Karana a fervent desire to get off the island and get back to her people, that would've given the reader something to pull for. But he did not. I don't know the real story well enough to say, but from what I recall I have a feeling the author was trying to stay true to the actual account. All I have to say for that is, leave that to the biographers and historians. You're writing fact-based fiction here, my friend. You're allowed a little leeway.

Rating Note: 3.5
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,576 reviews270 followers
January 29, 2021
“More than anything, it was the blue dolphins that took me back home.”
― Scott O'Dell, Island of the Blue Dolphins

Sigh. I never read this as a kid. At least I don't think I did.

And I have long had it on my TBR. Survival stories are not usually my thing but I am aware how this beautiful story and I wanted to check it out.

I cannot say with honesty I loved it. I am sure I would have, had I read it as a kid. What I CAN say is I can see why it is considered a classic.

I had heard of Robinson Cruso. And I am not 100 percent sure I did not read it as a kid. There are so many books I read in my long ago youth. I very well may have.

I struggled with a rating. I did not just want to rate it a five because of its status as a classic. But I couldn't give it a low rating either.

Things I loved....the animals, the pet dogs, the birds and that dang fox! The little red fox made its mark on me! I love red foxes.

I felt all the animal death was a bit much. Yes, I am a wuss and do not like that even in children's books! I actually felt a bit bad for the devil fish!

I loved the sea and the beauty and tranquility of the island.

And I loved the protagonist who is a heck of a lot more gutsy then I'd ever be in that situation!

But the real reason it gets a four....and almost a five...is the unforgettable, to brief, sequence with the dolphins. That was just....I cannot even express how exquisite that little part of the book was. I do wish it had been longer.

Words cannot express how I adore dolphins....along with seals and otters and sea lions. I still have so many pictures of them taken on various vacations.

If one could be an animal for a day...wouldn't it be fun to be a dolphin? Or a sea otter? Such playful and joyous creatures.

The school of dolphin that surround, befriend and help Karana in this story were adorable and so exquisite to read about. Such a lovely story.

So I do think if this is one you've missed as a kid, you may want to do a read. Particularly if you like dolphin!
Profile Image for emma.
1,823 reviews48.7k followers
November 12, 2021
i hate being outside for prolonged periods of time, and i cannot be alone with my thoughts, and i have no handiness or survival skills, and i sunburn like it's my job, and i don't always love animals (although i do typically like them), but i believe i could flourish in an Island of the Blue Dolphins scenario.

it's just my opinion.

part of a series i'm doing in which i recall books i read a long time ago and call it reviewing
July 8, 2021

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The copy I read is from the 1960s and features a very white-washed version of the Native heroine and a blurb from the New York Times book review that refers to her as "primitive." Oh, history, you racist scamp, you.

I had to read this book for school and thought it would be fun to revisit it as part of my reviewing project. It falls under this branch of children's literature that I think of as "kiddie disaster lit," including titles such as MAROO OF THE WINTER CAVES and THE CAY. Is this book authentic? Who the hell knows. It's written by a white guy and was published in the 60s... so I'm sure he took some, ahem, liberties.

Our heroine, Karana, is part of a Native tribe living on an island (I believe off the coast of California). White people come to hunt otter but after one of them screws over her tribe, they attack and her father is killed. Then one of the scouts goes off somewhere to find them somewhere else to live and on the day it's time to leave, Karana's idiot brother misses the boat, so she jumps overboard to save him.

Idiot brother is murdered shortly soon after by wild dogs, leaving Karana with the run of the place. She's a consummate bad-ass, hunting squid, making her own weapons and clothes, killing the wild dogs who killed her brother and then taming the leader as a pet. Books like this made me realize that I wouldn't be cut out for wilderness life but I kind of enjoyed the vicarious journey although to answer your question, YES the dog dies after she tames it because what the fuck, 1960s children literature. You certainly had a hard-on for killing animal side-kicks, didn't you? If a vintage kids' book has an animal side-kick in it, there's like an 80% mortality rate. I see you, OLD YELLER, THE RED PONY, THE YEARLING, and WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS.

I guess this aged okay and there's a replacement dog that takes the place of the dead one, so yay? I guess if you read this, take it with a grain of salt.

3 stars
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,865 reviews370 followers
July 4, 2016
***Wanda’s Summer Carnival of Children’s Literature***

Well, this was a blast from the past! I remember reading this (probably several times) during grade 5 or 6, maybe both. Funny what I remember from those childhood readings—my take away from it was that girls could do whatever they needed to and just as well as anyone else.

Looking at it now through adult eyes, I see a lot more of what the author was trying to do. His wildlife conservation message is “thump you on the head” obvious to me now. I can also admire how he took a historical fact (an Indian woman who had lived alone on a small island off the coast of California for 18 years) and filled in quite believable adventures for her to experience.

I can see where nature-loving mini-me would have been captivated by her taming of wild dogs, Western Tanagers and sea otters. Being a child with no playmates of my own age living close by our farm, I also spent a lot of time adventuring alone and could relate to her solitude.

For me, this one stood the test of time.
Profile Image for Kimberly Dawn.
163 reviews
August 2, 2019
A beautiful, true survival story of a resilient young girl who was stranded alone on an island for 18 years. Karana’s remarkable story is not to be missed. A story that is as enjoyable for adults as it is for older children!
Profile Image for Brina.
904 reviews4 followers
February 20, 2022
My friend’s choice for me for our group’s first quarter book swap. I told her to pick me something short and her selection was a middle grade kids book that I may or may not have read in my youth. Any story that features a Swiss Family Robinson way of life and dolphins as well as a strong female protagonist is going to hold my attention and O’Dell’s masterpiece certainly did just that.

🐬 3.5 stars rounded up
Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,127 reviews104 followers
July 8, 2019
Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition (Edited by Sara L. Schwebel)

Please note that for a first time perusal of Scott O'Dell's Newbery Award Winning Island of the Blue Dolphins (and this especially for children and/or teenagers), Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition should perhaps be considered rather too academically dense and advanced (although of course, if a child reader were to skip all of the supplemental inclusions, such as editor Sara L. Schwebel's introduction, René L. Vellanoweth's article on modern archaeology and the Lone Woman of San Nicholas and Carole Goldberg's musings on Native American issues and how she considers Island of the Blue Dolphins not so much as a novel of Native American doom, gloom and destruction but of Native American persistence and survival against the odds, Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition might still be a wonderful reading experience for younger readers, albeit that the presented text of Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition features Scott O'Dell's first edition and also includes two chapters that were excised from the commonly published versions of Island of the Blue Dolphins).

But for me as and older and yes often intensely critical reader, Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition has mostly and indeed appreciatively, fortunately been a both wonderful and enlightening reading experience, pairing Scott O'Dell's narrative (even if it is a first edition with some minor changes from the commonly published versions of Island of the Blue Dolphins) with in my opinion both interesting and also necessary detailed academic analyses regarding for example questions of how Native Americans are depicted and presented by the author, if one can and should consider main protagonist Karana a female Robinson Crusoe and how modern archaeological expeditions of San Nicholas Island have shed light on the older more anecdotal accounts about the Lone Woman of San Nicholas and Scott O'Dell's own research methods (not to mention that the detailed annotations and footnotes are an absolute academic delight and further augment and increase the learning and educational value of Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition).

Now I perused editor Sara L. Schwebel's introduction to Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition in order of its appearance, namely BEFORE I read the actual story of Island of the Blue Dolphins (which immediately follows Schwebel's introduction). And while I did debate whether I should read the actual novel text first so as not to be influenced in my reading by the content and themes of the introduction, I finally decided against this since I had read Island of the Blue Dolphins often enough in the past for me (at least in my humble opinion) not to be unduly influenced by Schwebel's analyses and considerations (but I do still leave the caveat that readers might indeed want to consider first reading the actual narrative of Island of the Blue Dolphins and then going back and tackling Sara L. Schwebel's introduction).

With regard to what is contained in and written, proposed by Sara L. Schwebel in her introduction to Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition, I do very much appreciate that while the problems with paternalism, the so-called noble savage and the supposedly disappearing, doomed Native American are featured and rather meticulously and minutely analysed (and which are definitely all present in Island of the Blue Dolphins and while I do appreciate Carole S. Goldberg calling Island of the Blue Dolphins more a story of Native American power and persistence, I do think that especially for the author, for Scott O'Dell, the doomed and vanishing Indian trope was and remains what he first and foremost had in mind), there is also fortunately not ever a demand made in the introduction to in any manner absolutely reject Island of the Blue Dolphins out of hand, to no longer have it read at school etc. (as in my opinion, especially how Native Americans are portrayed by author Scott O'Dell in Island of the Blue Dolphins is certainly and indeed a perfect discussion vehicle). And well, I have also never agreed with attitudes of across the board rejection let alone banning, censoring of literature for whatever (and even possibly good) reasons anyhow unless (perhaps and even then I tend to have my doubts) said literature is truly and utterly horrible and violently offensive (which I really and totally do not think Island of the Blue Dolphins ever can and should be considered as being, even with its problematic issues regarding how Native Americans are being depicted and presented, as really and all things considered, Karana is absolutely and utterly positively and yes lovingly, gracefully portrayed by Scott O'Dell).

And furthermore, I am also glad that in the introduction to Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition Sara L. Schwebel points out what I have personally always tended to believe with regard to Island of the Blue Dolphins, namely that while one can and should first and foremost consider the novel as a survival story, Karana is also not really in any manner a female edition of Robinson Crusoe (even if Scott O'Dell himself might have called her that). For Karana is not stranded in a strange and new world, as for her, the island is her actual home and that of course also makes her survival a bit easier, since she already is familiar with San Nicholas since her early childhood; Karana knows its flora and fauna. And indeed, Robinson Crusoe (just like many if not most of the other main characters in the so-called Robinsonades based on Daniel Defoe's original) is sadly also someone who actively tames and subjugates the island where he has been shipwrecked, where the island, its flora, fauna and yes, its potential human inhabitants are in fact always seen and described as lower, as something to be feared and then at best domesticated and subjugated (which also in my opinion does not all that much happen in Island of the Blue Dolphins either, as even when Karana gentles the wild dog Rontu, he and she become friends and companions on a pretty much equal level, not with her as master/owner and Rontu as her devoted servant so to speak).

Finally, there have also been over the years questions raised with regard to how well or how badly Scott O'Dell might have conducted his primary and secondary research about the Lone Woman of San Nicholas (on whom Island of the Blue Dolphins is based, with Karana being or at least representing the Lone Woman of San Nicholas). And while I do not think that Scott O'Dell's research was likely as thorough and as meticulous as the research done by many if not most historical fiction writers of today, after having read René L. Vellanoweth's information in Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition on recent archaeological expeditions to and finds on San Nicholas (and how they seem to mirror the older and more anecdotal 19th and early 20th century published information and accounts about the Lone Woman of San Nicholas and of which Scott O'Dell made ample use for his Island of the Blue Dolphins), I for one do tend to believe that O'Dell did a reasonable and decent enough job with what evidence there was available to him at the time (and that fabrications and embellishments seemingly were mostly used to fill in gaps that O'Dell's research did not cover or indeed perhaps showed with wrong information in the original sources). However, yes I do have both personal and linguistic, academic issues with the artificially constructed Native American language of the protagonist and how Scott O'Dell sure makes it seem in Island of the Blue Dolphins as though this is supposed to be Karana's actual mother tongue. For I know that I certainly believed the latter to have been the case as an eleven year old, when I was reading Island of the Blue Dolphins for the first time (and indeed, a totally artificial Native American language for me also kind of puts Karana and her story of survival a bit into the realm of fantasy, and thus in my opinion, Scott O'Dell probably should have used an extant Californian Islands Native American language from the same area and then mentioned in his author's note that Karana's language no longer exists but might be well related to other Native American languages of the area).

Five stars for the supplemental information included in Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition (for the enlightening introduction, the detailed annotations and the interesting articles on archaeology as well as the musings about whether Island of the Blue Dolphins could perhaps be considered more than just a tale of disappearing and doomed American Indians) and a high three star ranking for Scott O'Dell's actual story, for his narrative of Karana and her story of survival on San Nicholas Island, ergo an average ranking of four stars for Island of the the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition(as while as I have certainly enjoyed Island of the Blue Dolphins as much now as when I read it as decades ago as an eleven year old, the issues with how Native Americans are depicted, how Karana is presented by the author as being oh so noble and perhaps even a member of a disappearing and doomed people, and in particular that Scott O'Dell ended up using an artificially constructed by him language to portray Karana's mother tongue, this does indeed rather bother me a trifle, but still not all that much, as I do think that Island of the Blue Dolphins is a wonderful story in and of itself and in my opinion also absolutely and fully deserving of its Newbery Award, even though I do understand and realise that the novel is and remains somewhat controversial).
18 reviews
December 15, 2009
a children's book, this is my all time favorite. based on the true story of a young woman who had to survive alone on an island for more than 20 years. typical me...i love stories about strong women. i promised myself that when i "grew up," i would visit the grave-site of the woman who inspired the book. when i lived in california, i finally made my way to the mission in santa barbara where she was buried. for a moment i was able to flash back to my childhood self looking into the future...and i was moved that i kept the promise.
Profile Image for stephanie.
1,103 reviews381 followers
June 9, 2007
man, fourth grade was a good year for reading! this is another one, and fed my urge to be able to survive on my own even further. this is beautiful because it's based on a true story (she leaves the island with her skirt of cormorant feathers, which is on display at mission santa barbara) and because she was alone for eighteen years, and hid from russians, and dealt with wild dogs, and the loss of her brother.

it is beautiful, haunting, and a story of survival. it's also very much a story of california - the earthquake, the seal hunting, etc. i can appreciate now why ms. hart assigned this to us - at the time, i was simply thrilled i got to read about binding whale bones with seal sinew to make a fence.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Chantal.
899 reviews122 followers
January 22, 2023
I wanted to read this book for a while now, but I never had the opportunity because of time constraints. I also didn't know this was based on a real story in history. The book was very easy to read, I enjoyed it. It was at times slow and predictable, but it was an okay read for all ages. Don't expect a super book, but I would read it again, so there for it gets 3 points

This book is in the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up challenge I am doing.
Profile Image for Corinne Edwards.
1,440 reviews212 followers
January 12, 2021
This is a book that I read outloud to my two older children, ages 8 and 6. We LOVED IT. Here's my 8 year old daughter's thoughts:

It's about a girl a girl who is left on an island and she has to survive by herself. She makes her own weapons and she makes her own house that she makes with whale ribs for a fence. They used seaweed to tie the whale ribs together. That was my favorite part. I liked the ending, even though there were sad parts.

From my 6 year old:
I liked about how she made weapons. I liked how she made friends with animals on the island.

I love when a book fits the three of us so well. The story and setting feel expertly researched and authentic. Sometimes, when we had a chapter where we learned the details of Indian life and culture, it reminded me of Little House on the Prairie, especially when we learned how to dry food or make a skirt. There was certainly a lot of adventure, more than you'd think when a girl is living on an island by herself. Whilst reading a part where some wild dogs are having a bloody battle, my son actually gasped and yelled, "THIS is AWESOME!!!"

We all liked how many animals she interacted with - and the animals were the impetus for much of the emotion in the story. During one scene with an animal, I actually teared up as I was reading aloud. Karana (the main character) is tough and resourceful and she has to deal with way too much tragedy. Yet, part of what I liked is how she never sat like a lump and wanted to give up. Things get destroyed? Rebuild. All your food washes away/gets eaten? Collect more. She was a great example to my kids and we had some really interesting discussions about the hard things she deals with. At one point (you'll know when you read it, near the beginning), I worried that maybe it would be a bit too intense, but my kids took it in stride better than I did.

I read my kids the author's notes at the end too and we had a great talk about historical fiction. My kids wanted to know specifically what was real and what wasn't (I can relate to that!) and I could tell them, thanks to O'Dell's great notes. This one was a winner for us :)

Edit Jan 2021 - read again, outloud this time to my eight year old twin sons. Held up, 100%. They never wanted to be done listening. We marveled at the animals in her world and in her tenacity. We'd read about an animal and look up pictures and videos. A really great experience all around.
Profile Image for etherealfire.
1,210 reviews209 followers
July 14, 2021
Read this when I was around 13 years old. I remember being completely blown away that this book was based on a true story. One of my favorite books of that era and I can't believe that I forgot to document it at GoodReads until I saw the book pop up here.
Profile Image for ✨faith✨trust✨pixiedust✨.
398 reviews363 followers
June 18, 2019
This was the first book that I ever really loved. I first read it when I was about 10 or 11, and I fell in love with Scott O'Dell's writing, getting my hands on any of his books that I could find at my elementary school library. It really made me into a reader. But I hadn't read it in about a decade, and I was curious how well it would hold up to my adult mind.


I originally rated this 4 stars, rather arbitrarily, but this reread proved that this is truly an amazing piece of historical fiction, especially for children. Even for its time, it does a great job at portraying Native American peoples in a humanizing light, as well as young girls (which is amazing, because Scott O'Dell was clearly a white adult male).

It's compelling and action-packed, and extremely educational. I really felt for Karana as she lives abandoned on an island for the majority of her life, missing her family but feeling unable to leave her home. Making new friends and losing them. Growing and changing as a woman. It's short but it's excellent, and I highly suggest it.
April 13, 2020
“More than anything, it was the blue dolphins that took me back home.”

I remember reading this book as a mandatory read in school, but I really thought it was longer ahah! Isn't it crazy how the simple fact that we have to do something makes us enjoy it 100 times less? Reading this book, I see it has everything I would enjoy as a child: the setting, the animals, the wilderness... I read so many books like this as a child and loved them, and yet I remember not particularly liking this one. Oh, well, I definitely enjoyed it now as an adult. It's a short, interesting story, even though sometimes repetitive (it is based on this young woman's struggle to survive alone, and follows the cycle of seasons, mainly focusing on her efforts to care for injured animals or trying to tame them), and I was surprised to learn, at the end, that its based on a true story. This was much more fun than I expected!

Profile Image for Allison.
163 reviews80 followers
October 14, 2016
Can I be honest? I read this back in school, probably in 5th or 6th grade. (At least I think I did.) I just finished it at the age of 29 and I found myself fighting to get through it. When I started it in June, I was excited but I couldn't keep up the enthusiasm past a few chapters. It was incredibly boring. It just plodded along and didn't get better. How do middle grade children get through this book? I don't think it's a classic because it truly failed to engage me. The 2 stars are for the relationship the MC had with the wild dog. That was the only part I enjoyed. Just being honest.
Profile Image for Tatevik.
457 reviews90 followers
December 11, 2020
Classic children's, coming of age books are becoming one of my favorite genres. This is exactly what a book for children should look like - an interesting, deep, and meaningful storyline full of adventures.
I just now caught myself thinking that even though this book has few dialogues, which was important for me when I was a teen, it was easy to follow and I guess I would enjoy it the same way I enjoyed it now. I will try to find the second book in the series to follow the story of Karana.
Profile Image for Era ➴.
215 reviews527 followers
January 31, 2021
my friend once dared me to read this in half an hour to prove that I was a speed-reader, but then he had to leave and I never told him that I finished in 33 minutes. Only thing I remember is that there was island and a boat, which isn't exactly a riveting story.
Profile Image for Abby.
387 reviews64 followers
July 20, 2008
This book was freaking awesome. I loved it when I was a kid. All of the people on an island are leaving together one day, on a boat. I don't remember why. Anyhow, the main character's little brother got left behind on the shore. (What, they didn't think to do a head count before launching the boat?) She jumps off and swims back to be with him. The boat apparently drives only forward, and not in reverse, or they are in a really big hurry. I know this because they don't come back and get her or her brother.

They live on the island alone. Then, her brother gets eaten by wolves. (I remember thinking at this point, darn it! I bet she wishes she hadn't stayed now. If he was just going to get eaten by wolves either way, she might as well have stayed on the boat and be eating fresh sea bass right now.)

Finally, she leaves the island. I recall it being many years later. She put a bunch of paint on her face and got dressed all pretty, because she was old enough to date by then, and thought there might be a cute guy on the rescue boat or something.

If I recall, her people had disappeared and no one knew what had happened to them. Hey, maybe it wasn't such a bad thing that she missed the boat, after all!

This book was awesome. I read it several times. I can't believe how many books I read and re-read and re-re-read. I could have finished the encyclopedia by now if I'd only focused on reading new things as a kid. (By the way, I LOVED reading the encyclopedia when I was a kid. It rocks.)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kathryn Cantrell.
4 reviews2 followers
August 3, 2007
This was the best book in my early elementary years. I remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Hendrickson, reading it to us over the course of a few weeks in serial form. I read it myself in third grade. And now, out of nostalgia (can you be nostaligic for your 8-10 year-old self?), I'm re-reading it. I remembered it as the adventurous, though sad, life of a young girl. Now it seems less about adventure and much more about the heart-breaking trials of a lonely girl, left alone and for dead.

What the hell. Now that I realize this, I'm realizing no contemporary child will ever be allowed to read it. I'm actually shocked that I was not protected from this story... times were different, apparently. Whatever. I'm making my kids read this no matter how hard they cry.
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