Mother/Daughter Book Club: Island of the Blue Dolphins

Book Review:

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell is a vivid tale about a young girl’s survival. Karana is accidentally left behind when her Indian tribe leaves their home on a small Pacific Island. She must learn how to find food, build shelter, and make weapons to protect herself from wild dogs. The beginning of this book is sad and a bit graphic, which my daughter did not like. But then the rest of the book is engaging, and Karana’s courage is inspiring.

Discussion Questions:

1. How would you describe Karana as a person? In the beginning of the book? The end?

2. What do you think she thought when she broke the rule that women can't make weapons or they would break when they used them but when she used them nothing happened?

3. What do you think happened in her trip out to sea that made her happier with the island than before?

4. What do you think made Karana not kill Rontu?

5. She wanted to kill Rontu because he killed her brother and then didn't. Then she hated the Aleut girl because the Aleuts killed her father and many others. She had a change of heart about both of them. Both of these former enemies made her solitary life more bearable. Do you think that is why she changed her mind about them? Or was she merciful and forgiving? Was that part of her people's culture?

6. Ramo is attacked and killed by the wild dogs with Rontu as the leader and then later Rontu is attacked by the dogs. Was the author able to make you feel the same emotions in both scenes? If the dogs had killed Rontu do you think Karana feelings would have been the same as for her brother's death?

7. Why do you think the Aleut girl did not ask Karana to come with her? Do you think the girl told the Aleut men about Karana? Why?

8. When the men came to rescue her she didn't run down to the cove but waited for them to come to her. Why did she do that?

9. Karana tells us a few times that her sister was more vain than she was. She seemed proud that she wasn't that way. How is her pride a form of vanity? In secret she wore her cape, skirt, jewelry and then at the end of the book she put on airs for the men rescuing her. How vain do you really think she was? Was there a difference between her and her sister? Or was there a cultural reason she may have dressed for the men who rescued her?

10. Life on the island was alone was difficult and dangerous. What do you think kept her from giving up?

11. The dolphins are mentioned in the story twice, once going back to the island and then when she leaves. What did they symbolize for her?

12. Would you have stayed or left the island? Why?

(taken from

Food Ideas:

Cupcakes with blue frosting and fish sprinkles, fruit/veggies


My friend bought an aloe plant and the girls broke off stalks and learned how to scrape the aloe out of the plant. She talked about how Karana lived off the land, teaching the girls how they could use aloe if they got sunburned. Then we went outside and learned how to shoot bows and arrows. This was so fun – I think I loved it even more than the girls did!