The Island of the Blue Dolphins


A native girl is abandoned on an island off the coast of California.

When my daughter picked up my tattered copy of Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins, I’ll admit my heart did a little somersault. The story of Karana, a native girl left alone on an island after her father’s tribe is defeated, was an heirloom of my own childhood. Karana must build shelter, cloth and feed herself. Along the way she fends off wild dogs, must hide from Russian seal trappers, and endures the death of her younger brother.

My daughter read the story obsessively starting on a Friday night and continuing over the course of the weekend. I kept quiet. Would it mean anything to her? Would she be inspired the way I was? On Sunday I was on the couch and my daughter planted herself next to me. “Did you read this book when you were my age?” she started. For the next hour we talked about the story, about being strong, and about the historical facts behind the story. We looked for information on Juana Maria, the woman who left alone for 18 years on San Nicolas Island (whom Islands of the Blue Dolphins is based upon) and resolved to go there some day…

Find The Island of the Blue Dolphins at your local library.