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Island of the Blue Dolphins
by Scott O'Dell

The Reading Circle forum on StorkNet's message boards held a contest asking our readers to describe Newbery Medal books that they have read. They were ask if the book inspired them, or brought back any great childhood memories. Congratulations to "Jer" for choosing Island of the Blue Dolphins, and sharing why this book was special to her! Here is her description:

"There are too many great books on the list to pick a favorite, but one that's near the top of the list is Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins. It's based on the true story of the Lost Woman of San Nicolas, a girl who was left alone on an island off the coast of California for eighteen years. Karana is a typical girl of her tribe, hovering on the edge of adulthood, when Spanish missionaries come to relocate her people to the mainland. Before they can set sail, Karana sees that her younger brother has been left behind, and she jumps ship to go after him. Caught in an outgoing tide, the ship sails and leaves the children alone.

Soon after, Karana's brother is killed by the island's wild dogs, and she is left to herself for nearly two decades. She has only herself to rely on; she builds herself a home, learns to hunt, and survives. She makes friends of the animals on the island--birds, an otter, and eventually, the chief of the wild dogs himself. All the time she waits for the ship to return for her--but when it finally does, she finds that leaving her island sanctuary, as lonely as it is, is the hardest thing she's ever had to do.

This beautiful book made a huge impact on me the first time I read it. I still have the wooden knife I carved when I was nine, inspired by Karana's adventures. I spent hours planning my own shelter, designing and making my own tools. In fact, I can trace a direct line from Island of the Blue Dolphins to my studies in archaeology and bioanthropology--I was so fascinated by Karana's story that I learned to knap stone tools, make spears and atlatls and rabbit sticks and darts, collect water and food in a desert. I suppose if I am ever called upon to survive in the wild, I'll have Scott O'Dell and his unforgettable heroine to thank for my learning how! -Jer

To Purchase:
   • Island of the Blue Dolphins at Amazon.com
   • Island of the Blue Dolphins at Amazon.ca (Canada)
   • Island of the Blue Dolphins at Amazon.UK

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