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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Island of the Blue Dolphins

I love the conversations we have with our friends about books that have made lasting impressions in our lives. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell was one of those special books that I was encouraged to read after a friend (teacher & future librarian) shared her enthusiasm for it. I was searching for a book that my middle school Book Talk Club members had not yet read and this was a perfect selection. This 1961 Newbery Medal Winner is based on a true story. An island located off the coast of California was inhabited by Indians in the early 1800s. A ship carrying Aleut hunters arrived on the island to hunt otter. The Aleut met with the Chief - father of Karana, Ramo, and Ulape – and agreed to share part of their kill with the Indians. When the Aleut did not fulfill their part of the bargain, the natives fought back. The Aleut hurriedly leave with all of the otter pelts and the results of the battle that ensued are tragic. The Indian community lost so many of their men including the Chief. After many months, the survivors decide to leave the island by way of a ship sent by one of their former islanders. When young Karana sees that her little brother is being left on the island after going back to get his spear, she leaps off the ship to be with him. The ship has to continue on its journey, because the seas are too rough to return to the island. When tragedy strikes, Karana is left all alone. This is a moving story about survival, perseverance, and human nature. I gave my friend a hard time when I reflected on the sad parts of this book – they were heart-wrenching, but I am so happy that I read this timeless tale. Take the time to read Lois Lowry’s connection to Scott O’Dell on Amazon. Also, read about what happened when Scott O’Dell’s family scattered his ashes off the coast of California. Both are wonderful stories!

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