Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell is one of the books from my childhood that I've wanted to revisit. I didn't remember much about it, I just remembered it.

When we decided to focus on "award-winning Children's Classics" for our 2nd Tuesday carnival at 5 Minutes for Books, I thought that would be a good chance to explore this book. When I saw the audio CDs at the library as we were preparing for our cross country trip, I knew that it would be perfect.

It was a good listen that held some appeal for both my 11-year-old girl and my 6-year-old boy, since it contained lots of hunting and fishing and building. However, not much else happened. It’s a simple story of a girl, Karana, who gets left behind by her tribe on their island, the Island of the Blue Dolphins, and how she survived.

There are some scenes of natural violence – hunting and fighting (man on man, animal on man, and man on animal) which might make it difficult for younger or sensitive readers to enjoy, but in general, it appeals to kids who enjoy survival or adventure stories (adventure stories where not much happens, that is).

This is a perfect example of a book that is easier to listen to than to read. Amanda said that it was “okay,” and I agree. We both enjoyed listening, but I’m not sure that we would have continued reading it. Tantoo Cardinal’s simple reading was a fitting complement to the story and perfectly captured Karana’s voice.

This book was awarded the Newbery in 1961. I knew that it was sometime in my youth, but I didn't realize that it was written almost 20 years before I would have been reading. It's pretty timeless in that respect, and I can see how that element of the book will help it stand the test of time.


The Children’s Classics Award Winner Challenge takes place from July – December. You can set a goal for the whole challenge, or simply join in any time by posting a review on the 2nd Tuesday of any month over at 5 Minutes for Books.


I would like to revisit a few of the books from my childhood that have been Newbery honorees. I would also like to encourage Amanda to read some, specifically the 4th in the Austin family chronicles, A Ring of Endless Light, which I listened to on audio last year. We’ve enjoyed the other books in the series together last year, but she wanted me to listen to that one before she did, in the event that it was too sad or too mature, and I think it’s perfectly appropriate for her, so I'd like to encourage her to listen to the story in which Vicky Austin tries to figure out who she is or who she is going to be as she spends the summer with her grandfather, whose health is failing.

I would also like to include some award-winning picture books in my line-up, so I’ll have to search those out.

My goal is to post at least one review each month between now and December.


Carrie said...

I've never read this book. How sad is that?

Yes, one of my goals is to read some books that I know are on my shelf, but that I've yet to pick up for myself and actually read. I figured this is a great time to read my own home library! I'm always picking up titles on other people's recommendation or simply because they are classics. I just haven't READ them!

BTW, I left a comment over at 5M4B but the comment doesn't appear immediately for me to see that it "took." I left YOU a comment there though so if you didn'tsee it, let me know!

morninglight mama said...

I don't think I've ever heard of this one, but that's kind of the point of this challenge, right? :)

I do hope to seek out some Newbery winners for JAM and I to read, either together or on our own, because that's the age/reading level that I read the least often. Good to expand one's horizons!

unfinishedwork said...

Ah, I loved The Island of the Blue Dolphin as a kid. But come to think of it, I think it was a book our teacher read to us. Anyways, your post brought back memories.

I just checked out Troubling A Star, another Austin series book. I loved A Ring of Endless Light - perhaps maybe my favorite L'Engle children's book of all.

I just read Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur, a relatively new author. I highly recommend it for your daughter. It deals with the hard subject of death but in a very graceful, positive way. Check it out if you get a chance; I loved it (as in finished it in less than 24 hours!)


stephanie@{Olive Tree} said...

I reread this one at the end of last year and though how simple the book really is. It's not flashy, but just a really interesting book of her life on the island. I was definitely glad to revisit it!

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

I think I read this book sometime in elementary school...but like you, I don't really remember it. But just hearing the title brings back memories of being in my school's library, so there's some connection there.

monica @ paper bridges said...

love, love.

can't get my tween to read. boohoo.