Island of the Blue Dolphins Summary
by Scott O'Dell

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Island of the Blue Dolphins Summary

Island of the Blue Dolphins is a novel by Scott O'Dell, which is based on the true story of Juana Maria. The main character of the novel, Karena, was born in close-knit hunter and gatherer community.

  • Karena's community is decimated after an attack by the hostile Aleuts. The tribe decides to leave their island. Karena and her brother Ramo are left behind.
  • When Ramo dies, Karena fends for herself and tames a wolf.
  • Karena hides in a cave when the Aleuts return.
  • Many years later, a boat comes to the island. The boat takes Karena to California, where she starts a new life.

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Island of the Blue Dolphins appeals to readers in several ways. It is a story based on actual events, a kind of adventure that makes people ask themselves how they would have behaved in similar circumstances. Narrated in the first person, the book reads more like a realistic account than a work of fiction. Rich with history and information about plant and animal life, the novel is also full of ingenious ideas for survival and for entertainment in isolation. The work's most endearing qualities are its sense of humor and its humaneness.

Page after page, O'Dell offers imaginative solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. Although the story takes place over a century ago, Island of the Blue Dolphins has a timeless appeal because of the author's artistry in communicating his love for the sea.