Saturday, June 1, 2013

Island of the Blue Dolpins by Scott O'Dell

Reading to Know - Book Club

Amy @ Hope is the Word is hosting this month's Book Club discussion. With Carrie's help, they decided on Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

Written in 1960
181(ish) pages

*If you don't know the basic plot of the story, including the ending, my post will contain some spoilers.


Island of the Blue Dolphins is the story of a Native American girl, named Karana, that was left alone on an island. It is *loosely* based on a true story. Island of the Blue Dolphins is the possibility of what life might have been like for the real "Karana" alone all those years.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I was blessed that my library had an illustrated copy of this book. There were 14 full page, color paintings that brought the story to life, and added to the reading experience. There were two particular pictures that helped parts of the story impact me more. First, there's a picture of Karana and her dog(I've already returned the book and I can't remember that dog's name for anything!)in the Black Cave. When reading this book, I got the chance at a rare nap. I don't know about you, but when I wake up from a nap, my mind sees things with clarity that I don't experience otherwise. It's actually quite frightening most of the time. That's *part* of the reason I hate naps. But, I saw myself in that cave like Karana, and got a glimpse of just how frightening that had to have been. If I had been trapped in there like her, I would have been in a constant state of prayer. I don't know what Karana's spiritual life was like, but I know I wouldn't have made it without God! To be alone on an island had to have been unbelievably frightening!

The last picture really got to me, too. It shows Karana standing in front of her rescuers with her "single girl" make-up on, along with her necklace and skirt. I have to admit I cried a little seeing it. (Told y'all I'm emotional!) Karana was deprived of the companionship of a husband and children, and I could see the *hope* flowing from her. It saddens me even more to know how short her life was after being rescued.

Back to the mention of the skirt and necklace. O'Dell represented Karana dressing up, along with her dog, and walking around the island. I adore the fact that O'Dell included this in the story. To be a male writer, I think this is especially impressive, in my opinion. Even alone, on an island, a girl wants to feel pretty! :)

I enjoyed the relationship Karana formed with the animals more than anything else! I especially enjoyed Karana's emotional journey with the dog(s). Before children came along, and Jonathan was at work, I got quite lonely. We got a dog, and he became "our child". (Of course, it doesn't come close to comparing to our real children now!) When he was stolen a few short months later, my heart was ripped out. I can imagine that Karana's pain was magnified greatly since her dog was her closest companion. We "replaced" our lost dog, too, so I understood her need to do that also.

Of course, now that I have 3 little ones demanding my constant attention, he's not quite the baby he used to be to us! ;)

As I kept reading about the Devilfish, I hate to admit how long it took me to figure out it was an octopus. I did a little research after reading to make sure, and that seems to be the general agreement. I had a hard time figuring out if Karana's "pet" otter was a male or female. With the way it was written, I couldn't tell, even after re-reading a few times. What do you think?

Overall, while this probably isn't a book I'd care to re-read, I did enjoy it. It ended up being an emotionally impacting read for me.


  1. I enjoyed reading your thoughts! We must've read the same edition of the story since mine also had full color portraits in it. I feel the same way about how evocative many of the pictures are, though I didn't articulate that in my review.

    I think the otter was a female. I think some mention is made if it having babies. (?)

    I'm so glad you read along!

    1. She first named the otter a male name, but when she saw the babies, she mentions that otters mate for life. She also says that when the mother dies, the father will sometimes take on the role of the mother and she thinks that may have been what happened with her otter. She then renamed it with a female name and referred to it as a female from that point on. I couldn't tell if it was female all along or just taking on the role of the mother that died. I was leaning slightly toward female, too, but wasn't sure. Thanks! :)

  2. This is a classic that I've been meaning to read. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it. I might read it with my kids one day.