Island of the Blue Dolphins

By Scott O’Dell (1960)

Island of the Blue Dolphins tells the amazing true story of Karana – a native of the Chanel Islands off the coast of California – marooned by her departed tribe – who survives for eighteen years – all by herself.

Karana’s story is told with O’Dell’s simple, beguiling, elegant prose. In this story, Nature is a main character as Karana has to brave the elements. She manages wild dogs and sea elephants, hunts for abalone, masters her island, navigates and explores its mysterious caves via canoe, and even confronts an earthquake and tsunami.

Karana evinces a personal spirit and resourcefulness that has inspired several generations of readers. It still speaks to modern audiences via O’Dell’s special, rare prose. And its mysteries can still provoke an unexpected conversation in your school about survival and fortitude and resourcefulness.

(You can even see a plaque commemorating Karana’s accomplishment if you visit the old Spanish Mission in Santa Barbara.)