Scott O'Dell New York Herald Tribune Books - Essay

New York Herald Tribune Books

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Occasionally we rejoice to find a book not written to fulfill any need or with any audience in mind, but simply because the subject has seized the author's imagination and he had to write it. These are usually books that quietly take hold of us and make our lives the richer for having read them. Such is "Island of the Blue Dolphins." We will never forget the quiet courage and resourcefulness of Karana, creating a beautiful and satisfying existence for herself during eighteen solitary years on a rock island in the Pacific. Scott O'Dell, basing his story on a true incident which occurred in the early nineteenth century, wisely lets Karana tell in a simple, matter-of-fact way the details of her extraordinary experience. It is hard to imagine a young girl who would not be held spellbound by its quiet poignancy or a boy who would not be enthralled by her struggle to survive against tremendous odds—the threatening wild dogs, the scarcity of food, an earthquake and a tidal wave….

There is a beautiful feeling for the passing of the seasons, and for the companionship offered by the presence around her of many animals, the massive sea elephants, the beautiful sea otters, the cormorants, the blue dolphins that leap through the waters and the pets who become her greatest solace. Above all, there is a deep sense of peace and quiet triumph as Karana achieves happiness on her wild and lonely island.

"Girls' Romances of Today and Yesterday," in New York Herald Tribune Books, May 8, 1960, p. 8.∗