Island of the Blue Dolphins: A Review

Posted by Mama Sez | Monday, February 22, 2010

Follow parentsjourney on Twitter by Rica Emmanuele

Note: This is a book report presented to us by our 10-year-old daughter, Rica Emmanuele, as an offshoot of her nightly reading log, a school requirement wherein students are asked to read any book of interest. Her choices had mostly been novels, particularly the classics. She's so excited when we told her that we can publish her work online that she immediately finished the report. It's her third book report but the first one done for us. We're pretty sure it won't be the last.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
(A Newberry winner)


Won-a-pa-lei/Karana- The girl who was left on an island.

Ramo- Karana’s brother

Ulape- Karana’s older sister

Chief Chowig- Karana’s Father

Rontu- A wild dog that became Karana’s friend

Mon-a-nee/Won-a-nee- Karana’s otter friend

Tainor and Lurai- Karana’a bird friends

Rontu-Aru- Rontu’s son who became Karana’s friend


There was once an island called the Island of the Blue Dolphins where Indians lived. But they had to leave the island. A girl named Karana and her brother were left behind. Karana had to live all alone when here brother died. She became friends with a wild dog that she tamed, two birds and a sea otter. She also built her own house. She lived in this island by herself for many years until a ship came to take her away.


Once upon a time, there was an island that was shaped like a fish. It was called the Island of the Blue Dolphins because blue dolphins lived in the waters surrounding it. Before, the Indians lived in the island.

There was a girl named Won-a-pa-lei. Her secret name was Karana, which was rarely used. She had a younger brother whose name was Ramo and an older sister whose name was Ulape. Her father’s name was Chief Chowig.

One day, a ship came to the island. They were the Aleuts. Their ship had red sails. Chief Chowig welcomed them. They were there to hunt for sea otters. But Chief Chowig said that they should give them half of their catch because they own the sea where the sea otters lived. The leader of the Aleuts whose name was Captain Orlov agreed.

When the Aleuts were about to leave, they did not give half of the catch to them, but instead, they killed Chief Chowig. The Indians were cheated. The children of Chief Chowig, Karana, Ramo and Ulape felt very bad.

One day, the Indians left the island to transfer to another one. Karana and Ramo were left behind, but they did not worry because they knew that the ship would come back. But it did not. They waited for the ship to come for many years. It still did not come.

Then a time came when Ramo was killed by a wild dog’s deep bite on his throat. Now, there was nothing Karana can do. She was all alone. She never felt this way before.

Karana wanted to kill the wild dogs or their leader because they might kill her as well. She made weapons to help her. Then one day, she shot the leader with an arrow. It was not dead yet but she carried it to her house that she built for herself. She tamed the dog and gave it a name. The name was Rontu.

Now, she is not so lonely because of Rontu. She was very happy to have him. She also caught two birds that she named Tainor and Lurai. She met a sea otter and named it Mon-a-nee. She had so many friends to cheer her up!

One day, Rontu was with Karana hunting for devilfish. Then they saw a giant devilfish! They tried to get it but it was too hard. Rontu loves staying with Karana.

Karana tried building her own canoe and going to sea with it in case she finds another island. But when she went to sea, her canoe had leaks so she had to go back. While going back to her island, she saw blue dolphins coming near her. This made her happy.

Then a time came when Rontu died. Karana was very much upset about this. She buried Rontu. Then she found Rontu’s son and also tamed him. His name was Rontu-Aru. Sometimes, Karana forgets that he is not Rontu because he really looks like his father.

One day, an Aleut ship came. Karana hid in a cave. She saw a girl on the Aleut ship. Then one time, the girl saw Karana and made friends with her but Karana did not like it because she hates the Aleuts.

The girl’s name was Tutok. She now often visits Karana in her cave. Tutok also gave a necklace to her. They eventually became very good friends. Sometimes, Tutok does not go to the cave and Karana worries.

Then one day, the Aleuts left the island. Karana will miss Tutok. She made earrings that matched the necklace that was given to her by Tutok.

Then after several more years, another ship came to the island. This time, it was not the Aleuts. It was a ship that would take her out of the island to another place. Karana was very happy.

She painted something under her nose that meant she is unmarried. Like her sister Ulape did. Then she packed her things and showed up to the men.

One of the men made a dress for her because they said that she did not look good with her Indian dress. The dress they made was tight but she did not complain. She also did not like it when she wore other dresses because she wanted to wear her skirt that she made herself.

Then she told Rontu-Aru that they are going to leave the island. Her other friends can’t come because it would be too hard. So she said goodbye to all of her friends and also to the island. Then Karana left with Rontu-Aru beside her.


Island of the Blue Dolphins is a very good book because it is a story about a girl who was left on an island. For me, it is nice because I can read about a girl trying to survive alone. I want to recommend the book to everyone. It is so much fun reading it that it took me only three hours and fifty minutes spread in four nights to finish the whole novel.

P.S.  I was about to hit the publish button when I decided to look up the novel in the internet. I discovered that the novel was based on a true story of Juana Maria. She was known as the "Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island" left alone for 18 years on San Nicolas Island, one of the Channel Islands, off the California coast. The photo to the right is an aerial view of San Nicolas (sources: Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons).

When my daughter learned about it, she got even more excited that a girl actually survived alone in an island shaped like a fish.


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  1. Violet February 23, 2010 at 8:11 PM  

    Your daughter has written a very detailed and lovely book report. I hope she enjoys reading.

  2. Violet February 23, 2010 at 8:15 PM  

    I hope she enjoys reading in the future too (half a comment there :) )

  3. Mama Sez February 24, 2010 at 2:23 AM  

    Yes she loves reading Violet, our two sons love to read as well.

    Sometimes she intends to read a few pages only but then she shouts "Mom I can't stop, the story is so nice that I can't put down the book." Then she extends her reading time.

    Thanks for the compliment. I will let her read your comment and she will definitely be elated :)

  4. Anonymous March 19, 2010 at 5:19 PM  

    I love the book Island of the Blue Dolphins! It is a great book. I recommend reading it.

  5. Anonymous August 11, 2010 at 8:03 PM  

    I love this book my child started to read and never stopped.

  6. Anonymous November 3, 2010 at 4:54 PM  

    We are now reading " Island of the Blue Dolphins" in class. This book is amazing and I highly recommend this. So far, this has been one of my favorite books I have ever read.

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About Us (circa 2009)

Our journey led us to this place. A little more than 10 years ago we began our journey as husband and wife. Three years later, we found ourselves with two bundles of joy- a daughter and then a son. They're the children we've dreamed of having.

About five years since the birth of our son, an unexpected gift came- a younger brother to our school-age kids. And soon enough, a baby girl arrived to round the family membership.

Brave was a term used by a friend to describe us. Challenging... and loving it -- yeah, this journey is not for the faint of heart.