Review: Island of the Blue Dolphins – A Story of Survival

Posted May 18, 2015 in Reading, Review / 2 Comments

Review: Island of the Blue Dolphins – A Story of SurvivalIsland of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Series: Island of the Blue Dolphins #1
Publisher: Laurel Leaf (1960)
Paperback (208 pages)
Reading Challenges: 2015 Alphabet Soup, 2015 Birthday Month, 2015 Color Coded, 2015 Re-Reading, Read 2015


In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound. Once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind.
This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building a shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.

Find the book: Goodreads

My Review

I think I first read this book around fifth grade. The story fascinated me. A young Indian girl is left to survive alone on a small island in the Pacific Ocean for eighteen years. That’s enough to capture the imagination of a fifth grader. Then I found out that the book is based on a true story! There was no way I wouldn’t like this book.

Karana lives on the Island of the Blue Dolphins with her tribe. Her father is the chief. When the Aleuts come to hunt otter, the tribe is suspicious and their suspicion is confirmed when the Aleuts try to leave the island without paying the tribe the agreed upon fee. A skirmish breaks out where many men of Karana’s tribe, including her father, die. The Aleuts retreat aboard their ship with red sails.

Later the tribe is having trouble surviving with so few men that the new chief decides to go off in a canoe to enlist the help of the white men. From history I know that these white men were the Spanish Jesuit priests of the California missions.

When a boat comes to take the tribe away, Karana’s brother goes back for his spear and is left on the shore. Karana jumps overboard so he will not be alone while the ship is forced to sail away due to a storm. Karana and her brother are left alone on the island with only the hope that the ship will return for them. Two days later, Karana’s brother is killed by the pack of wild dogs that live on the island and Karana is left alone.

Eventually Karana realizes that it may be a long time until the ship returns for her and so she goes about setting up a safe place for herself to live on the island. She uses the resources available and makes plans to survive. She tames one of the dogs for a pet and companion. Later she also cages some birds She lives out a life of solitude awaiting the return of the white men’s ship.

Which Reading Challenges?

  • You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge
  • Birthday Month Reading Challenge (May)
  • Hard Core Re-Reading Challenge
  • Color Coded Reading Challenge (Blue)
  • Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge (I)


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2 responses to “Review: Island of the Blue Dolphins – A Story of Survival

  1. I loved this book, but I hardly remember it. 🙁 I do, however, remember wanting to find an island and live on it by myself. I thought it would be really cool to do a whole Robinson Crusoe thing. Now…not so much. 😉

    This book is definitely one of my re-read books. I think I’ll understand it a little better because I’m older now.
    Ardelia recently posted…Similes, Metaphors, and Personification: Which One is Which?

    • I can agree with the wanting to find my own island to live on when I was younger. Now, no.
      I reread this one every once in a while since I loved it so much as a child. I’ve been debating reading it next year if I have some fifth grade reading students.
      Thanks for visiting!