Island of the Blue Dolphins Book Summary

The Complete Reader's Edition

by Scott O'Dell, Sara L. Schwebel64


Island of the Blue Dolphins follows Karana, a girl left alone on an island for 18 years, highlighting themes of survival, friendship, and self-reliance.

What is Island of the Blue Dolphins about

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, now in its Complete Reader's Edition, is a profound tale of survival, resilience, and self-discovery. Set against the backdrop of San Nicolas Island off the coast of Southern California, the story follows Karana, a young girl stranded alone after her tribe is taken away by Europeans. Over the course of 18 years, Karana learns to fend for herself, forging deep connections with the natural world and battling loneliness. This edition, enriched with critical essays and previously unpublished chapters, provides deeper insights into the historical and cultural contexts that shaped the narrative, making it a significant work in children's literature.

Island of the Blue Dolphins 5 Key Takeaways

Stranding on the Island

Karana is left behind when her tribe is transported to the mainland. Her brother, Ramo, is initially with her but is soon killed by a pack of wild dogs.

Survival and Isolation

Karana begins to adapt to the harsh conditions of the island, building shelter, finding food, and making weapons despite cultural taboos against women doing so.

Friendship with Rontu

In her quest to avenge her brother, Karana befriends the leader of the wild dog pack, whom she names Rontu. This companionship alleviates her loneliness.

Encounters with Outsiders

Karana has several tense encounters with Aleut hunters who come to the island. She remains hidden, fearing they might harm her.

Rescue and Departure

After years of solitude, a ship arrives, and Karana is finally rescued and taken to the mainland, ending her long isolation.

Island of the Blue Dolphins Videos

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Island of the Blue Dolphins Best Reviews

  • The New York Times describes Island of the Blue Dolphins as 'an unforgettable adventure story that has captivated generations of readers with its compelling protagonist and vivid depiction of survival against all odds.'
  • Kirkus Reviews praises the Complete Reader's Edition for its 'meticulous scholarship and thoughtful contextual essays, making this a treasure for both new readers and long-time fans of Scott O'Dell's work.'

Top Island of the Blue Dolphins Quotes

  • ‘I do not know how long I stood there. But when I turned and looked again, the ship was a small shell floating on the sea.’
  • ‘I remember the day the Aleut ship came to our island.’

Who should read Island of the Blue Dolphins?

Island of the Blue Dolphins is ideal for young readers aged 7-12 and anyone interested in stories of survival, historical fiction, and cultural history. It offers valuable lessons in self-reliance, friendship, and resilience, making it a timeless read for both children and adults.

About the Author

Scott O'Dell (1898-1989) was an acclaimed American author known for his historical fiction novels for children. He won the Newbery Medal for Island of the Blue Dolphins, which remains his most famous work. O'Dell's writing often focused on the resilience and adventures of young protagonists in historical settings. Sara L. Schwebel is an academic who has extensively studied O'Dell's works and provides critical essays that offer new perspectives on his stories.

Island of the Blue Dolphins FAQs

What is Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell about?

Island of the Blue Dolphins follows Karana, a girl who becomes stranded on her home island when her tribe leaves for the mainland. She survives alone for 18 years, forging a friendship with a wild dog and learning self-reliance.

Is the book Island of the Blue Dolphins a true story?

Island of the Blue Dolphins is a work of historical fiction based on the life of a Native American woman who spent 18 years in isolation on San Nicolas Island.

What age is Island of the Blue Dolphins appropriate for?

The book is suitable for children aged 7-12, though it can be appreciated by readers of all ages due to its timeless themes and engaging narrative.