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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Island of the Blue Dolphins

As of 1:28 this morning, I'm officially 23 years old! yay! Happy Birthday to me! :)

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

This is the story of Karana, an Indian girl living on the Island of the Blue Dolphins with her tribe. When the Aleuts come to hunt for seals, they decide they don't want to share with the island natives. They kill many of the village men, including the leader, Karana's father. When the white men come to take the islanders to the mainland, Karana gets left behind because she has to make sure that her brother gets on the boat. They tell her they'll be back from them eventually, but Karana waits and waits and waits. No one comes back for her. She must learn how to provide for herself and protect herself. But will she be able to survive against the harsh elements and the wild dogs that killed her brother? And will she be able to find enough food to survive?

I had heard of this book before, but I'd never read it. My Children's Literature class really introduced me to a lot of books that I added to my list to read. Luckily I have about 3 weeks from my 10 week session this summer until my fall semester to catch up on some of them for fun!

I thought this was a great book at the beginning. I was very interested while I was reading it until about 3/4 of the way through. I thought it was just dragging on and on and I was definitely tired of it by the end! One thing I thought was strange about the story is that the tribe forbade women from making weapons. They weren't allowed to make their own bows & arrows, spears, clubs, or anything. There was a legend that said if a woman makes a bow & arrow, the bow will break when she needs it the most, when she's in danger. It was interesting to see how Karana was still so concerned about this legend even when she was on her own and had to protect herself somehow.

It also made me really happy when Karana took the wild dog leader in as her own after she hurt it. She killed so many wild dogs on the island, but this one she helped heal and then kept. I hadn't even thought about how lonely that would be for someone. I know it would be hard for me not to have someone to talk to for years!

Karana tried to hunt the devilfish many times in the book and I was confused what kind of fish that actually was. She described it as having long arms with suckers on them. She also says that they shoot out a black cloud. I kind of thought it was an octopus, but I thought she would've mentioned the eight legs because that's pretty significant... So I looked up devil fish on Wikipedia and it came up with the guy on the right. That is not what I was imagining! But Wikipedia also says that devilfish is "an alternate and (rather obsolete) name for the octopus." So that is still an option. WikiAnswers says that it is clearly a squid. I don't really know though. I'm not an aquatic animal expert!

This is a really interesting website called The Real Castaways: True Stories of Being Stranded on a Deserted Island. Scroll about 3/4 of the way down the page and there is a section about Juana Maria, the girl who inspired Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins. But there are also a bunch of other cool stories about people being stranded on an island. So check that out! The island in this picture is San Marino Island, where Juana Maria was stranded and lived alone for 18 years.

Today for my birthday we went to Monhegan Island in Maine. While we were hiking in the woods and on the big rocks, I was thinking about where we could've hid from the wild dogs and protected ourselves from the elements. It would be so weird to have to do that though! What about snakes! (Apparently there aren't many snakes in Maine though, because it's so cold). I guess I'm not nearly as resourceful as Karana was. But she was also raised in a completely different setting and lifestyle, so it should be easier for her to collect her own food and build her own weapons because she's already used to it.
Here's a picture of Andy and I climbing around on the rocks! (He's not actually that much taller than me, I am definitely standing on a lower rock!) This is when we had climbed down from the top of the cliffs and we're right above the water coming in! It was a lot of fun!

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