Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O' Dell

76%

12 Critic Reviews

An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and a dozen compelling full-page watercolor illustrations to enchant new readers and old friends.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

Far off the coast of California looms a harsh rock known as the island of San Nicholas. Dolphins flash in the blue waters around it, sea otter play in the vast kep beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches.

Here, in the early 1800s, according to history, an Indian girl spent eighteen years alone, and this beautifully written novel is her story. It is a romantic adventure filled with drama and heartache, for not only was mere subsistence on so desolate a spot a near miracle, but Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that had killed her younger brother, constantly guard against the Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply.

More than this, it is an adventure of the spirit that will haunt the reader long after the book has been put down. Karana's quiet courage, her Indian self-reliance and acceptance of fate, transform what to many would have been a devastating ordeal into an uplifting experience. From loneliness and terror come strength and serenity in this Newbery Medal-winning classic.

In celebration of the book's 50th anniversary, this edition has an introduction by Lois Lowry, Newbery Medal-winning author of The Giver and Number the Stars.

 

About Scott O' Dell

See more books from this Author
Scott O’Dell (1898–1989), one of the most respected authors of historical fiction, received the Newbery Medal, three Newbery Honor Medals, and the Hans Christian Andersen Author Medal, the highest international recognition for a body of work by an author of books for young readers. Some of his many books include The Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Road to Damietta, Sing Down the Moon, and The Black Pearl.
 
Published February 8, 2010 by HMH Books for Young Readers. 194 pages
Genres: Children's Books, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Nature & Wildlife, History. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Island of the Blue Dolphins
All: 12 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 20 2010

An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and a dozen compelling full-page watercolor illustrations to enchant new readers and old friends.

Read Full Review of Island of the Blue Dolphins | See more reviews from Kirkus

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by The Book Bunch on Jun 21 2013

This book was not an easy read, it took some concentration to read but the story carried us along and the struggle for survival provided plenty of suspense and thrills to keep us turning the pages.

Read Full Review of Island of the Blue Dolphins | See more reviews from Guardian

Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Hannah Lackoff on Jun 17 2010

It's a simple story; a beautifully written coming of age story in which there are barely any secondary characters and almost non existent dialogue. Meticulously researched and rich in detail without feeling bogged down...

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A Book and a Hug

Above average
Reviewed by Barb on Jun 03 2015

I think a reluctant reader would quickly lose interest in the story once it becomes more descriptive in nature. However, since the story is told from Karana’s point of view, it sustains the interest of the reader because you can see her thoughts and actions as she plans out her methods of survival and you watch her courage in action.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by M.Trainor on Jun 02 2015

Scott O’Dell has done an amazing thing in writing this book. He wrote from the point of view of an uneducated twelve year old girl, yet the story is so believable...Island of the Blue Dolphins is a rare read. I would definitely recommend it.

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Story Snoops

Above average
Reviewed by Shannon on Jun 03 2015

This well-loved book is about one girl's determination to survive and persevere through even the toughest circumstances. Karana recalls some battle scenes between the Aleuts and her tribe where people and animals are killed. Karana herself kills some animals in order to survive.

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Parental Book Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Cella‎ on May 31 2015

I think any high school boy or girl would be very interested in reading this book. It was one of the best books I’ve ever read. I never once wanted to put the book down...Mainly I would recommend this book to anyone who likes other novels from Scott O’ Dell; if you liked other books you will most likely like this one.

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Shelf Love

Above average
Reviewed by Jenny on Aug 10 2011

The details are the best part about the story. I loved Karana’s clever creation of shelter for herself, her resourcefulness in getting and storing food...I enjoyed the story. It’s nicely told, respectful of Karana and her people, and it has tension and touching moments. It may not have rocked my world, but it was certainly worth reading.

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https://rhapsodyinbooks.wordpress.com

Above average
Reviewed by rhapsodyinbooks on Jan 26 2010

For me, this story was remarkable but also sad. I should note that the author rarely depicts Karana as being sad; in fact, his re-creation of her existence includes many moments of triumph over adversity...And the author does talk about her adaptive techniques in details that are consistently interesting and inspirational.

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Above average
Reviewed by Jill Marshall on Jun 03 2015

This subdued book is about how she survives alone for years, but of all her survival skills, the most important thing she learns is how to cope with loneliness...There is no denying, this is a very sad story. I think you will find Karana's resourcefulness fascinating, and her loneliness excruciating.

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Kidsmomo

Good
Reviewed by You(th) on Apr 12 2011

This is one of my favorite books for two reasons. One reason is that it takes place in the 1600’s and is a real historic story about an indian girl. The other reason I love this book is that It kept me guessing through out the whole book and had about five big surprises...

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The Book Barbies

Good
Reviewed by Sharon on Mar 02 2013

Island of the Blue Dolphins is the story of Karana, a Nicoleño Indian girl who, after an incredible tragedy and act of bravery, is left to live on her own on an island....Even though this is technically a Middle Grade book, I would recommend it to readers of all ages, if you haven't read it.

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Reader Rating for Island of the Blue Dolphins
87%

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