Want personalized picks that fit your family?
Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.
Island of the Blue Dolphins
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
An island girl is separated from her tribe and must learn how to survive on her own. Through threats of wild animals, natural disasters, and invaders, Karana learns to apply her skills toward keeping herself alive. This gritty story was ahead of its time in its depiction of a strong, self-sufficient heroine.
When a tribe of islanders leaves their home in search of a safer place to live, they accidentally leave behind a 12-year-old girl and her young brother who (SPOILER ALERT) does not survive. Karana must learn, through various hardships, to get by without the help or wisdom of her tribe. Readers witness her struggle to survive, season after season, for the 18 years she stays on the island. She's not lonely; eventually she befriends and tames various wild animals, even those she's seen as her enemies. She comes to realize it's easier to live in peace than to be constantly at war.
Is it any good?
Based on a true story, this well-written adventure shows how one smart, innovative girl uses her knowledge of the world around her to ensure her survival. Through many challenges, Karana remains intent not only on survival alone on her island, but also on making a happy life for herself, showing incredible strength of purpose. The book is full of vivid natural description, from the general geography of the island to the specific details of how Karana obtains and prepares food.
Karana finds strengths she never knew she had, which young readers find appealing. Kids will keep reading to find out not only how Karana keeps herself alive, but about the many ways she has fun on her island and the non-human friends she finds. When her rescue finally comes, she leaves the island a different person than the girl who was stranded there 18 years earlier. The joy of the book comes from watching this change take place.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about feeling lonely. Do you think Karana will continue to feel lonely even among people on the mainland?
Are Karana's relationships with the animals around her a good substitute for relationships with people? Do you have close relationships with any animals?
Do you think she would fit in with her tribe after so much time alone?
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love strong characters
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.