Most of O'Dell's fiction for young adults takes place along the North American Pacific Coast or among the islands nearby. Several of his books focus on young people in these areas, and although they do not form a series, they all examine the processes of maturation and cultural adaptation.
United International's 1976 film version of The Black Pearl deviates substantially from O'Dell's work. In the movie, the pearl is sold to buy food and clothing for the villagers. O'Dell was unhappy with this change because he felt it weakened the spiritual theme of his story.
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