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Island of the Blue Dolphins - Book Review

Susan Helene Kramer


Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, was winner of the Newbery Medal in 1961 and joins my list of treasured books, because of the example of resourcefulness the young girl, Karana, shows in surviving alone against all odds. Stranded by herself on an island off the coast of California for 18 years, Karana relies on her inner strength, courage and skills she developed through trial and error to cope and grow.


Mr. O’Dell describes realistically the animals and vegetation on the island, and this reader was immersed right along with Karana in the pictures of the environment seeing the daily struggles and challenges of survival.


Scott O'Dell (1898-1989) was a prolific 20th century author. Island of the Blue Dolphins was written for children, but he also wrote fiction and nonfiction for adults. Growing up in Southern California he enjoyed the ocean and being outdoors. It is a beautiful example of Mr. O’Dell’s expertise writing historical fiction. More of his books are The Road to Damietta, Sing Down the Moon and The Black Pearl.


Coming back to modern times and the challenges today’s kids face for a moment, a young person faced with obstacles has an opportunity through reading Karana's story of coping and thriving, to see that there is more than one way to learn and grow in life. The story gives reason to keep striving toward one’s chosen goals.


I love that the setting is right off the California coast - giving a sense that this story really could have happened. Standing on the beach in Southern California, looking out to the Channel Islands, one can “see” Karana in her daily struggles.


It is a particularly appropriately book to read aloud to school age kids - though the fact that Karana was stranded and alone might scare preschoolers. I feel that it is surely an example that when one door is closed another way opens making use of different learning techniques, and Island of the Blue Dolphins shows many examples of adaptation.


My highest recommendation.


Details - for upper elementary reading level in 192 pages; published by Sandpiper; Anv edition (February 8, 2010); ISBN: 0547328613.


To order from -


Review by Susan Helene Kramer; I bought my copy from

Copyright 2012-2015 Susan Helene Kramer
Santa Barbara, California USA
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Published by Creations in Consciousness
web site


page created May 4, 2013