Review: Island of the Blue Dolphins

Island of the Blue DolphinsIsland of the Blue Dolphins
by Scott O'Dell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Island of the Blue Dolphins / 978-0-547-32861-4

Somehow, I missed reading this novel as a child, but I have no doubt that I would have enjoyed it immensely. Even as an adult, I am still captivated by such classics as "The Swiss Family Robinson", and "Island of the Blue Dolphins" definitely delivers the same escapist fare. The writing is lovely and leisurely, and crawls at a sort of "sleepy Sunday afternoon" pace where the narrator can tell us a few simple steps in, say, weapons-creation or clothes-making, at the end of which we realize that an entire year of "island time" has passed.

It's difficult to say if this story will continue to captivate the newest generations of young children. A little of the writing and syntax feels a touch dated, and as a consequence a bit confusing. For instance, the narrator will talk about a "pack of dogs" in the singular, as in: "It hunts in the morning" or "It comes back in the evenings", which while technically completely correct grammar is not the phrasing most common these days, and can confuse even veteran readers at times. And, of course, being a Newbery book, there is a mandatory tragic death or two that will jerk tears from the reader. Indeed, the ending itself (and perhaps the entire story) is rather sad, assuming the reader reads the foreword first and knows that Karana's isolation will never truly be broken. The story is no less worthy of being read, however, and it's probably a good bet that if you (or your child) like "Swiss Family" or "Robinson Crusoe", then you will like "Island of the Blue Dolphins".

NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine.

~ Ana Mardoll

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