Island of the Blue Dolphins Book Cover

Island of the Blue Dolphins
By Scott O'Dell
1960 Dell Publishing
189 pages
Isbn: 0-440-94000-1

Ages: 9 and up

Rating: Harmful



Off the Santa Barbara Coast of California is San Nicholas Island, an island that looks like a dolphin sunning itself in the sea. Abundant wild life: cormorants, sea gulls, sea elephants, abalone, otter, dogs, dolphins, and devil fish in habited the island as well as the Ghalas-hat Indians.  The Ghalas-hat Indians traded otter hides/pelts for trinkets (beads) from the ships such as that lead by Russian Captain Orlov and his Aleut hunters. Captain Orlov and his hunters killed twenty seven of the Ghalas-hat Indian warriors due to the miss negotiated worth of otter pelts.  One of those killed was Chief Chowig, he had three children Ulape Wonapalei (Karana) and Ramo, whom had lost their mother a few years earlier.  After the death of twenty seven of their tribe a new leader was elected Kimki.  After a grief stricken winter the next spring Kimki decided that he would take a canoe and row for many days to the east to make a place for the tribe amongst the people there, he never returned.  Matasaip then became the leader of the Ghalas-hats’, and when the next ship came he made the decision to have the tribe leave the island with white men that came specifically to take them away from Ghalas-hat.  In the rush to pack their things and board the ship Ramo was left behind, while gathering his spear.  Wonapalei feeling obligated to take care of her brother jumped overboard and swam back to her little brother.  Brother and sister than lived on the island gathering food and water, anxiously waiting for the ship to return for them.  Ramo declares himself Chief Tanyositlopai and tries to prove to his sister he is now a man by attempting a task only the men in the tribe had done.  On his way to attempt the task Ramo is surrounded and killed by the wild dogs of the island, leaving his sister alone.  Wonapalei lives on the island alone for the next 22 years making friends of the animals, and solving numerous obstacles during her isolation.  Finally two springs after a big tidal wave and earthquake had come a ship came to get her and took her across the sea into the morning sun.

More Resources

ITEPP-CRC book Review

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

San Nicolas Island

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