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Saturday, March 13, 2010

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

One of my all-time favorite childrens books, at one point I owned 3 copies of this. My edition is kind of held together with tape, the cover is half off, it was apparently soaked at some point, and it reminds me of the Velveteen Rabbit - this is a much, much loved book. Based on a true story, this was a hopeful but heartrending story of Karana, stranded on an island alone for 18 years. The novel mostly covers the first 3-4 years and glosses over the later time. I remember as a child identifying with Karana as her brother disobeyed his elders and got left behind, and as his older sister she felt obligated to leave the ship to save him.
Once she is left alone to fend for herself, she has to replace all the tools and shelters that had been destroyed or were taken with them by her tribe. She has to learn how to hunt, which was always forbidden to women. She has to defend herself from the wild dogs on the island, and protect herself from unwelcome visitors who might hurt her. She also has to not let the solitude and desperation overwhelm her.
Mr O'Dell is amazing in his ability to get inside the mind of a 12-year-old girl. While she is amazingly determined, capable, and resilient, he also shows how she can be vain, and like pretty things. It is amazing he's able to write such a compelling book when over half of it has no dialogue and just involves one person. A beautiful and touching story of strength in the face of hardship, Karana's tale teaches and inspires.
This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

1 comment:

Julie P. said...

Terrific review -- thanks for sharing. I have this one downstairs and definitely want to read it. I think I read this book as a kid, but I can't remember any specifics.