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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Island of the Blue Dolphins* by Scott O'Dell - young adult book review
Also by Scott O'Dell:

The Black Pearl
Island of the Blue Dolphins
by Scott O'Dell
Young adult 192 pages Yearling reissue March 1987 Paperback    

Karana knows that the large men with beards and blue eyes who arrived in the morning in the largest ship she had seen in her lifetime were not to be trusted. There had been stories of men like these before, and of the savagery they had inflicted on her people. She can tell that her father, the Chief, is also distrustful as he speaks with the men on the beach below her hiding place among the grass at cliff’s edge. As she listens she held her back straight with courage, knowing that her people cannot defend themselves against these intruders to their fish-shaped island.

Karana watches as the men burn the carcasses of dead sea otters after stripping their fur to take back to their homeland across the ocean. They work through the nights for many weeks, showing no friendship toward her people at any time. Then comes the day when the men load the ship to leave and her father, the chief, and the rest of the men of the tribe wait on the beach for their share of the bargain struck the day the strangers arrived on the island. Again she is on the cliff watching, but this time, although she holds herself with strength and courage, she senses something is wrong. These men cannot be trusted, either! A sudden movement brings on a battle as Karana stares at the carnage. In the end, less than half her people survive, and her father is not among them.

As her people continue to suffer and then to flee, she never loses that strength. Nor does she lose the belief in the courage of her people - even when she is left behind alone to live on the island shaped like a fish. Karana learns to defend herself from the wild dogs, to make weapons like the men of her people, and to stock food and water for the rainy time. Always she waits for the return of her tribe, looking out over the water each morning, never giving up hope of their return for her.

Scott O’Dell won a Newbery Medal for this book in 1960, and it has withstood the merit of that award over almost four decades. His is one of the best historical fiction books for young readers on the subject of indigenous peoples. O’Dell’s book is not one to be shelved after one reading, but one to bring out again and again for both young and old readers alike.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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