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January Week 1

Teen Reader

 Island of the Blue Dolphins

The Island of the Blue Dolphins

Click here for the text version of The Island of the Blue Dolphins

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About the Author

 Scott O'Dell

Scott O’Dell (1898-1989)

Scott O'Dell (May 23, 1898 – October 15, 1989) was an American author of 26 novels for young people, along with three novels for adults and four nonfiction books. He wrote historical fiction, primarily, including several children's novels about historical California and Mexico. For his contribution as a children's writer he received the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1972, the highest recognition available to creators of children's books

O'Dell's best known work is the historical novel Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960), which won the 1961 Newbery Medal and the 1963 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in its German translation.  It was also named to the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award list. He was one of the annual Newbery runners-up for three other books: The King's Fifth (1966), The Black Pearl (1967), and Sing Down the Moon (1970).

Scott O'Dell was born O'Dell Gabriel Scott, but after his name was incorrectly published on a book as "Scott O'Dell", he decided to keep the name. He was born on Terminal Island in Los Angeles, California, to parents May Elizabeth Gabriel and Bennett Mason Scott. He attended multiple colleges, including Occidental College in 1919, the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1920, Stanford University in 1921, and the Sapienza University of Rome in 1925. During World War II, he served in the United States Army Air Forces. Before becoming a full-time writer, he was employed as a cameraman and technical director, as a book columnist for the Los Angeles Mirror, and as book review editor for the Los Angeles Daily News. He was married two times. His wives were Jane Dorsa Rattenbury, and Elizabeth Hall.

In 1934, O'Dell began writing articles as well as fiction and nonfiction books for adults. In the late 1950s, he began writing children's books. His first children's book was Island of the Blue Dolphins.

In 1984, he established the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, an award of $5,000 that recognizes outstanding works of historical fiction. The winners must be published in English by a U.S. publisher and be set in the New World (North, Central, and South America). In 1986, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books awarded O'Dell this same award.

Scott O'Dell died of prostate cancer on October 15, 1989 at the age of 91. (From Wikipedia)


Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960)

Island of the Blue Dolphins is a 1960 children's novel by American writer Scott O'Dell, which tells the story of a 12-year-old girl named Karana, who is stranded alone for years on an island off the California coast. It is based on the true story of Juana Maria, a Nicoleño Native American left alone for 18 years on San Nicolas Island during the 19th century.

Questions for Island of the Blue Dolphins

Describe Karana, Ramo and Ulape's lives before the invaders appeared on the island. Does their life seem simple and easy, or are there hardships? Even though they do not have the modern conveniences available today, do they appear content and happy? Use quotes or statements from the book to support your response.

The Island of the Blue Dolphins could be described as a book of survival.  What survival techniques did Karana and the islanders use?

How does Karana grow as a person during the course of the book?

What personal qualities can help people cope with difficulties or dramatic changes in their lives?  Which of these did Karana have?


Teacher’s Guide for The Island of the Blue Dolphins


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