Houghton Mifflin Reading: The Nation's Choice: Theme Paperbacks, Above-Level Grade 5 Theme 2 - Island of the Blue Dolphins

Houghton Mifflin Reading: The Nation's Choice: Theme Paperbacks, Above-Level Grade 5 Theme 2 - Island of the Blue Dolphins

by Scott O'Dell
     
 

Island of the Blue Dolphins is the remarkable story of a strange and beautiful Indian girl who lives a serene and courageous life as the solitary survivor on a rocky island off the California coast.

The island looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters frolic in the surf, and sea elephants and birds abound. Once,

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Overview

Island of the Blue Dolphins is the remarkable story of a strange and beautiful Indian girl who lives a serene and courageous life as the solitary survivor on a rocky island off the California coast.

The island looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters frolic in the surf, and sea elephants and birds abound. Once, many Indians lived on the island, too. But when the Russian arrived to prey on the wildlife surrounding the island, a war broke out, and many perished. The few that were left fled the island and sailed to the island of Santa Catalina in the east, but Karana, The Girl wih the Long Black Hair, and Ramo, her brother, were left behind.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Winner of the Newbery Medal in 1961, this story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for eighteen years on an island off the coast of California, still fascinates young readers. Her survival story-fighting the wild dogs and loneliness, hunting for food, and hoping to be rescued-is spellbinding. 1996 (orig.
From the Publisher
"A haunting and unusual story based on the fact that in the early 1800s an Indian girl spent eighteen years alone on a rocky island far off the coast of California . . . A quiet acceptance of fate characterizes her ordeal." School Library Journal, Starred

"O'Dell tells the miraculous story of how Karana forages on land and in the ocean, clothes herself (in a green-cormorant skirt and an otter cape on special occasions), and secures shelter. Perhaps even more startlingly, she finds strength and serenity living alone on the island. This beautiful edition of Island of the Blue Dolphins is enriched with 12 full-page watercolor paintings by Ted Lewin, illustrator of more than 100 children's books, including Ali, Child of the Desert. A gripping story of battling wild dogs and sea elephants, this simply told, suspenseful tale of survival is also an uplifting adventure of the spirit." Amazon.com

Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
This beautiful edition commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the book's original publication in 1960. A welcome addition is the introduction by Lois Lowry, providing background on the historical events which inspired this story, and some thoughtful questions about O'Dell's interpretation of those events. Although this was O'Dell's first YA novel, it garnered him the Newbery Medal and he went on to receive the Hans Christian Andersen medal for his body of work. Readers meet 12-year-old Karana, the sole survivor of a tribe of indigenous people inhabiting a remote island about seventy miles southwest of Santa Barbara. After otter hunters and wild dogs kill off most of her people, Karana becomes self-sufficient and protects herself against wild animals, the weather, and potential intruders. Karana first tries to kill and then befriends Rantu, the leader of the dog pack, who becomes her beloved companion. This opens the door to her shifting view of all the animals on the island as more than just food, but spiritual beings with whom she may live in harmony. When at last Karana is rescued from the island and taken to the mission in Santa Barbara, she remains alone, because no one is alive who understands her language. It is a touching story of resilience and determination in the face of astounding obstacles. This new edition can foster rediscovery of a compelling character and enhance social science lessons about indigenous peoples, the role of missionaries in colonization, and California history. Readers will be impressed by Karana's strength, resourcefulness and her survival skills. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
Children's Literature - Maggie Chase
This 50th Anniversary Edition contains the same, beloved, classic story of Karana and her epic adventure of surviving on a Pacific island by herself for 18 years. The difference is that this edition begins with an Introduction by Lois Lowry. In it, Lowry recaps what is known about the real Karana, a woman who came to be known as Juana Maria, although she never answered to that name because she did not share a common language with anyone on the mainland of California. Lowry provides additional details to the Author's Note included in every edition of the book. For example, she tells readers that a Russian American trading company landed on the island of San Nicolas in 1811 to hunt sea otters, possibly setting off a chain reaction of human massacres. She also recounts the many stories or versions of why Karana ended up remaining behind when the rest of her people left on a schooner sponsored by the Santa Barbara Mission. Lowry includes musings and commentary about O'Dell's writing. She wonders at his ability to tell such a rich story with only one human character, and she regrets that she had not asked him a multitude of questions about the craft of his writing while he was still alive. Lowry as well as readers will have to be content with savoring the story itself and letting some of the mysteries and questions behind it remain unanswered. In 1982, O'Dell established the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, whose annual $5,000 prize is given to recognize meritorious work published for children or young adults. Reviewer: Maggie Chase

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618062607
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/11/2000
Series:
Houghton Mifflin Reading: The Nation's Choice Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
216
Age Range:
6 Years

Meet the Author

Scott O’Dell (1898–1989), one of the most respected authors of historical fiction, received the Newbery Medal, three Newbery Honor Medals, and the Hans Christian Andersen Author Medal, the highest international recognition for a body of work by an author of books for young readers. Some of his many books include The Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Road to Damietta, Sing Down the Moon, and The Black Pearl.

Read an Excerpt

An Excerpt from Island of the Blue Dolphins

There are no trees on the island except the small ones stunted by the
wind. When a log came ashore, as happened once in a long time, it was
always carried to the village and worked on where a chance wave could
not wash it away. That the men were sent to hollow out the log in the
cove, and to sleep beside it during the night, meant that they were there
to watch the Aleuts, to give the alarm should Captain Orlov try to sail
off without paying us for the otter skins.

Everyone was afraid he might, so besides the men in the cove who watch
the Aleut ship, others kept watch on the camp.

Every hour someone brought news. Ulape said that the Aleut woman spent
a whole afternoon cleaning her skin aprons, which she had not done before
while she had been there. Early one morning, Ramo said he had just seen
Captain Orlov carefully trimming his beard so that it looked the way it
did when he first came. The Aleuts who sharpened the log spears stopped
this work and gave all their time to skinning the otter which were brought
in at dusk.

We in the village of Ghalas-at knew that Captain Orlov and his hunters
were getting ready to leave the island. Would he pay us for the otter
he had slain or would he try to sneak away in the night? Would our men
have to fight for our rightful share?

These questions everyone asked while the Aleuts went about their preparations
—everyone except my father, who said nothing, but each night worked
on the new spear he was making.

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