Winner of the Newbery Medal, I never read Island of the Blue Dolphins as a child, although I’m positive I wouldn’t have liked it then either. As everyone in Karana’s tribe is evacuating the island, she looks back and realizes her little brother has been left behind. She jumps out of the boat and swims back to the island, where they live there alone until her brother is killed. After his death, she makes friends with an otter and one of the wild dogs that may or may not have killed her brother. Of course, as the days turn into months and the months turn into years, her animal friends move on or pass away, which only makes her even more lonely.
In his footnotes, O’Dell says Island of the Blue Dolphins is based on the “the girl Robinson Crusoe [who] actually lived alone upon this island from 1835 to 1853, and is known to history as The Lost Woman of San Nicolas.” I cannot fathom what that life would be like, but I thought O’Dell’s interpretation was pretty boring. All the action occurred in the beginning and the remainder of the novel is spent waiting for Karana to be rescued.
Although, come to find out, being “rescued” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Karana’s entire tribe was killed when their boat sunk off the cost of present-day California, and she is unable to communicate with her rescuers, which only further plunges her into loneliness. It’s such a sad, lonely little book that I immediately shoved aside my other books and went to go bug my family into doing something together.
- O’Dell, Scott. Island of the Blue Dolphins. New York, NY: Yearling, 1995. Print. 184 pgs. ISBN:9780440439882. Source: Purchased.