The book opens to Karana and her little brother, Ramo, gathering roots in a canyon above Coral Cove. She quickly identifies Ramo as being half her age, six years old, and small, active and impulsive. She describes him as, "quick as a cricket. Also foolish as a cricket when he was excited." She is afraid he will run away when he learns of the approaching ship, so she doesn't mention it. This scene also shows Ramo to be observant as he notices the ship on his own and tries to use nature references to identify it, comparing it to a cloud sitting on a flat stone. Ramo continues to prove attentive as he spies on Captain Orlov and brings news of his people back to camp.
Later in the story when the ship of the white men comes and Nanko declares that they will leave the island, Ramo demonstrates his strong will and impulsiveness. Though Karana tells him to leave his fishing spear because the white men are in a hurry to leave, Ramo disobeys her and returns to the village only to be left behind. Karana dives from the ship in order to return to her brother.