Friday, January 9, 2009

Review: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

rating: 5/5 from all three of us :)
genre: historical fiction for middle readers

This is a book that I read outloud to my two older children, ages 8 and 6. We LOVED IT. Here's my 8 year old daughter's thoughts:

It's about a girl a girl who is left on an island and she has to survive by herself. She makes her own weapons and she makes her own house that she makes with whale ribs for a fence. They used seaweed to tie the whale ribs together. That was my favorite part. I liked the ending, even though there were sad parts.

From my 6 year old:
I liked about how she made weapons. I liked how she made friends with animals on the island.

I love when a book fits the three of us so well. The story and setting feel expertly researched and authentic. Sometimes, when we had a chapter where we learned the details of Indian life and culture, it reminded me of Little House on the Prairie, especially when we learned how to dry food or make a skirt. There was certainly a lot of adventure, more than you'd think when a girl is living on an island by herself. Whilst reading a part where some wild dogs are having a bloody battle, my son actually gasped and yelled, "THIS is AWESOME!!!"

We all liked how many animals she interacted with - and the animals were the impetus for much of the emotion in the story. During one scene with an animal, I actually teared up as I was reading aloud. Karana (the main character) is tough and resourceful and she has to deal with way too much tragedy. Yet, part of what I liked is how she never sat like a lump and wanted to give up. Things get destroyed? Rebuild. All your food washes away/gets eaten? Collect more. She was a great example to my kids and we had some really interesting discussions about the hard things she deals with. At one point (you'll know when you read it, near the beginning), I worried that maybe it would be a bit too intense, but my kids took it in stride better than I did.

I read my kids the author's notes at the end too and we had a great talk about historical fiction. My kids wanted to know specifically what was real and what wasn't (I can relate to that!) and I could tell them, thanks to O'Dell's great notes. This one was a winner for us :)

9 comments:

bermudaonion said...

What a joy reading that must have been! It's so wonderful when books create discussions with your children.

Amanda said...

Oh I loved this book growing up. I read it multiple times. For another good book with similar topics, check out My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. It's a bit more controversial though because instead of being forced to live off the land, he runs away and does it. But I loved it growing up.

bethany said...

I've read this book maybe 3 times!!I first had it read to me in school and then I begged my parents to please find it because I loved it so much. It really is a great book.


Thanks for the review!! Glad that you and your kiddos enjoyed it :)

Jeane said...

I've loved this book every since I first read it in school way back when. It's nice to know kids still appreciate it nowdays, too. I'll have to try it on my own daughter when she's old enough (only four now).

Jenni said...

I clearly remember being part of my sister's home-video book report for Island of the Blue Dolphins! She borrowed my neighbors dog and we chased that thing all over the park for an afternoon while she tried to get the right shots... Oh the memories. I'm going to have to read this with Sophie!

Nicole said...

Thanks for reminding me about this book. I loved all the things that you and your children mentioned. Now I have to read this with my cousin. She's eight and is totally into girls being able to so things so I am sure she will love this book.

erin sheely said...

It's been forever since I've read this...I should pick it up again.

Fyrefly said...

This was one of my favorite books as a kid. Originally, I couldn't get into it, so my dad sat me down and read the first two chapters out loud... after that I tore the book out of his hands, because he wasn't reading fast enough and I wanted to know what happened!

Jeanette said...

I just read this book for the first time last month. I really enjoyed it and just wish I had not rebelled against reading it when I was younger.

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