Art & Literature

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Island of the Blue Dolphins

One of the most famous works of American children’s literature revolves around one of the Channel Islands, it is titled Island of the Blue Dolphins and was written in 1960 by Scott O’Dell. This story provides insight into the challenges of living on the remote islands, which although they might be in viewing distance of the mainland on clear days, were up to 75 miles away across a choppy channel in a wood plank canoe. It is a mysterious story based on a historical record of a real a young woman, The Lost Woman of San Nicolas Island, who was once stranded when her people migrated to the mainland.

"Far off the coast of California looms a rock known as the Island of San Nicholas. Dolphin flash in the blue waters around it, sea otter play in the vast kelp beds, cormorants roost on it crags, and sea elephants loll on stony beaches.

Here in the early 1800’s, according to history, an Indian girl spent eighteen years alone, and this beautifully written novel is her story. It is a romantic adventure, filled with drama and heartache, for not only was mere subsistence on so desolate a spot as near miracle, but Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that had killed her younger brother, constantly guard against the Aleutian sea-otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply, even when it meant battling an octopus.

More than this, it is an adventure of the spirit that will haunt the reader long after the book has been put down. Karana’s quiet courage, her self reliance and acceptance of fate transform an ordeal into an uplifting experience. From loneliness and terror comes the strength and serenity that is modern man’s goal and that is symbolized by the island itself, rising alone and majestic from the wide waters of the Pacific " from Island of the Blue Dolphin.

Lone Woman Storybook
Eighteen Years Alone

The Search for the "Lone Woman of San Nicholas"


Crossing the Channel
Reporters wanted: Writing Project