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#45 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (1960)
This book took me to another time and place, unlike any other book. Haunting. Before Katniss, there was Karana. – DeAnn Okamura
Oo. Leave it to DeAnn to come up with the best line of them all. “Before Katniss, there was Karana”. I am so quoting you on that, m’dear. Beautifully put.
The publisher’s description of the plot reads, “In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound. Once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind. This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.”
She was the Lost Woman of San Nicolas Island. A woman who had lived there all by herself from 1835 to 1853. Jan Timbrook, Curator of Ethnography at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, gives a little background on her true story. “In the early 1800’s, Russian and Aleut sea otter hunters clashed violently with Indian people living on remote San Nicolas Island. The mission padres requested that these Indians be moved to the mainland for their own safety, and in 1835 a schooner was sent to pick them up. As the ship was being loaded, a woman discovered her child had been left in the village and went back to find it. Meanwhile a strong wind arose. The ship was forced to sail and the woman was abandoned on the island, her child apparently killed by wild dogs. The schooner was unable to go back for her, and she spent eighteen years alone on the barren, windswept island. She never saw her fellow islanders again.” There is more info here. After she died the DAR (the DAR?) gave her a plaque in her honor. Here it is:
When O’Dell heard of her he was, according to Anita Silvey’s 100 Best Books for Children, a book review editor for the Los Angeles Times. So he wrote a book about a similar woman but the audience, to him anyway, was unknown. According to David L. Russell’s book Scott O’Dell, he once said of the book, “I didn’t know what young people were reading and I didn’t consider [Island of the Blue Dolphins] a children’s book, necessarily. [It] was a protest against the hunters who came into our mountains and killed everything that crept or walked or flew. I sent the story to my agents. They sent it back to me by return mail, saying that if I was serious about the story I should change the girl to a boy, because girls were only interested in romance and such. This seemed silly to me. So I picked up the story, went to New York City, and gave it to my editor, who accepted it the next day. When it won the Newbery Medal, I was launched into wri
As regular readers of AICL know, I'm working on a Master's in Library Science at San Jose State University. This semester, I learned how to use Prezi. It is all-the-rage in presentation-land, but my final assessment is that I doubt that I'll use it for presentations. While it may be more engaging, it also fails to meet accessibility standards for special needs populations. In order to make mine as accessible as possible, I didn't use all the toys in Prezi. My presentation is as straightforward as I could make it.
Every once in a while the Iron Guy likes to set conventional wisdom on its ear. (When I say "conventional wisdom," I mean "The way people say it's always done") The conventional wisdom says that boys won't read books with a girl as the main character. Well, I stick out my tongue and say, "Ppphhhhttttt!!" to that. Give a guy an exciting story about a boy or a girl and he'll read it. I've seen guys sitting around the library reading Nancy Drew graphic novels. So there! I've got a book that any guy would enjoy. I read it several years ago (which makes it a Blast from the Past) and it's Island of the Blue Dolphins by the terrific Scott O'Dell. This is a great survival story in the tradition of Hatchet. (see my review of that book here) In this story, a Native American girl named Karana and her little brother get left behind when her tribe has to leave their island, which is a desolate spot off the coast of California. They learn to fend for themselves but then her brother gets killed by a pack of wild dogs. Can she learn to survive on that lonely island? Can she make peace with that pack of dogs or be killed by them too? Is it possible to make it through the winter on her own? Add to this an unforgettable fight with a "devil fish" and you've got one fantastic book that will stay with you long after you finish.So go and check it out. You'll really like it.
This gets the Iron Guy Seal of Approval as One Terrific Book!
(sorry about the glare on the cover--must the glow of MANLINESS radiating from the Iron Guy!)
In the future we will all be wearing yellow sweatshirts and Bumpits
We’ve been doing a fair amount of weeding in the old Children’s Center these days. I’ve taken on the challenge of tackling the fiction. Weeding a fiction collection is rather like weeding a garden. There’s a lot of dead heading involved. Space to fill. Dead matter to discard.
While going through the books of yesteryear I’ve been intrigued by the passing fancy of some authors. While folks like Judy Blume or Laurence Yep have written for decades and remain popular figures on the Summer Reading Lists, certain writers have fallen by the wayside.
The other day Jennifer of the Jean Little Library blog left this comment on my post about movies that usurp their books in the public consciousness: “Re. Doubtfire, Anne Fine used to be majorly popular – take a look at a library shelf that hasn’t been weeded for a while. She’s still a big deal over in the UK, although her popularity over here has waned, at least in my library. She seems to be mostly writing beginning chapter books now – Jamie and Angus anyone? Her older book Flour Babies still checks out frequently, despite the awful cover.”
She’s not wrong. Weeding the Fine books I had to determine which ones would stay and which ones would go (we have reference editions of most books, so this is not quite the dire situation I make it sound).
It gets one to thinking: Who are the popular children’s authors of yesteryear who remain on unweeded children’s library shelves around the country? Who just doesn’t move like they used to? A couple names come to mind right off the bat.
Anne Fine: Already mentioned. In a way, her popularity has been usurped by Jacqueline Wilson.
Paula Danziger: She may be in need of a book jacket revival. In fact, I believe such a revival has already happened overseas in Britain. In her day, Danziger was the go-to funny female writer (shoes that are now filled by Lisa Yee). Some of her titles still go out, in spite of their covers, but for the most part they shelf sit more than I’d like.
Peter Dickinson: We have a heckuva lot of Dickinson on my library’s shelves, but when I bring up books like Eva with my kids all I meet with are blank stares. I think he was always more of a YA writer anyway, so it’s strange that we have so many of his books in the children’s section. Maybe he should have been purchased for the teen collections all along.
Scott O’Dell – Aside from Island of the Blue Dolphins and Zia, his books don’t really go out. Compare his outdoor survival tales to those of Gary Paulsen or Jean Craighead George and you’ll see a definite difference in circulation stats.
Those are just the first four to come to mind, though there are certainly others out there as well. Confess it then, folks. Are there great authors of the past that just sit on your shelves, where once they used to fly? If possible, limit yourself to folks who did particularly well in the 70s and 80s (even early 90s) but don’t write all that much today. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, after all.
Hey, guys, just wanted to let you know that I'll be on vacation too. I won't leave town until Sunday but I'l be gone from the library on Friday. So keep writing and voting. Don't forget that you get three extra points for every review you send in. Don't stop writing because Bill and I aren't here. Bill will be back Tuesday and he'll catch up on things. I might even check in before Sunday. But don't forget that the deadline for voting on this round ends at 9:00pm Tuesday, March 25. (Bill will be back and he'll figure the results)
Our friends at the Guys Read blog often have a What I'm Reading Now post. Well, here's my What I'm Taking to Read on Vacation list:
The King's Fifth by Scott O'Dell. I told you earlier that I was reading a book called The Black Pearl by Scott O'Dell. Well, I liked it and I like the author too so, if I like this book, I'll make a Scott O'Dell post and talk about those two books.
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham--an old, old book but it looks good. A fictionalized biography of Nataniel Bowditch, who lived in the days of the tall-masted sailing ships. He went to sea when he was 12 and eventually learned to navigate ships so well that he became a living legend. This book the Newberry medal as Best Book of its year.
And I might finish the second Barnstormers book while I have the car worked on tomorrow. This second one is good!!
Well, like Harry Carey, the great baseball announcer said whenever someone hit a homer,''He's going ...he's going...he's outta there!"
Keep swinging for the outfield,
Y'all. Y'all. Nearly 750 of you have started the survey, and nearly 350 of you have completed it. Thank you so, so much. We never anticipated such an incredible response, and are bowled over by how generous you have been with your time, your thoughtful responses, and your ideas. Again: thank you.
For those of you who have been putting off responding to the survey, or forgot about the survey, or have no idea what I'm talking about, first, read this entry. (Briefly, Liz & I are writing a book on pop culture & libraries. The survey is designed to find out what you're doing to leverage your pop culture collections at your library.) Then, if you are still interested in helping us out, please take the survey. It'll take you 15-30 minutes, tops, and will help us out immeasurably.
Like all good things, however, the survey is coming to a close. I'm shuttering the windows & rolling up the carpets on Sunday evening, around 5 PM EST. So speak -- er, type -- now, or forever hold your peace. At least until the book comes out.
Thank you, once more. We are in your collective debt, and we will do everything we can to ensure the book delivers on the promise of your contributions.
And welcome, SLJ readers!
So, there's this really nice article about PGTL: The Book on School Library Journal's website today. Needless to say, Liz & I are beside ourselves with delight. In the immortal words of our patron saint, Flavor Flav, "yeeeeah, boyyy!"