I'll have to admit I love to read outloud to my daughters. Of course I always encourage them to read books on their own but reading them out loud seems to make them come alive for some reason. Marilyn is an auditory learner so she does better retaining the information hearing it then she does reading it and Katie is the total opposite. But they both love to listen to the stories.
At the end of the Calvert 4th grade the student is to read " The Island of the Blue Dolphins". I'll admit I had heard of the story but never read it growing up. Public schools never did focus on good literature when I was growing up. I can definitley say we enjoyed the story quite a bit. It did have a little bit of a slow start and I'll admit the story was at times lonely and sad but we really enjoyed how the author described the braveness of this young girl that had been through such a tough ordeal.
I'll give a brief description of the story. Well as brief as one can be.
The story begins on an island called Ghalas-at. An Indian trible happily lives on the island and never cares for the spring as the Russians and Aleuts come to the island to hunt the otter. The tribe had poor experiences with these two groups of people but they allow them to come on the island and hunt their otter. Chief Chowig the chief of the tribe speaks with these people and they promise to pay the tribe for allowing them to hunt , which turned into a big lie. This big lie caused a fight between the tribe and the Russians and Aleuts with the Russian and Aleuts killing most of the tribes warriors and the chief himself. The chief had three children , Ulape the oldest daughter, Karana who at the time was 12 and their 6yr old brother Ramo. Another man in the tribe takes over as chief and goes out to set to relocate the tribe else where. As the tribe waits to hear from their chief who promises to have white men come back to get them they prepare to leave the island. Finally they do come back to get them and Karana finds that her brother wants to go back to get his spear. She tells him no and they go off onto the boat. As Karana is on the boat and the storm in the sea begins she finds that her brother is indeed not on the boat. She calls out to him and screams to the captain but they tell her they cannot turn back. So Karana jumps into the water to swim back to her brother all the while having faith that these people would come back to get them the following spring. Karana and Ramo set up camp and gather food and make a place to stay when a few days later Karana cannot find Ramo. Knowing that there are wild dogs on the island she goes looking for her brother to find out that he was killed by them. Full of hate and vegenance Karana plans to get back at the wild dogs by killing them all in revenge. First Karana needs to make weapons and this is not something she is skilled in because it was something that was forbidden in her tribe. Karana learns to over come this law and learns that what was told to her as a young girl was not true. After making the weapons she seeks out to kill the wild dogs and goes after the leader of the pack. Karana spears the leader but goes back feeling sorry for the animal she hurt Seeing him half dead Karana brings him back to her 'home' and nurses him back to health. After the dog regains his health he learns to trust her and the two become friends. Karana makes many other animal friends while she stayed on the island and had many adventures as well.
Finally one day , eighteen years later to be exact, the white men finally come to the island and Karana is finally saved and brought over to the Americas.
Of course even though I just told you what the book was mainly about you still need to read it for yourself because there is alot more to it then what I described. It definitley was a good book. It did have a few slow points where you just wished someone would just save the poor girl. There were times you could feel her loneliness and this definitley had sad points. Karana loses her dad in the beginning , then her brother Ramo and later on in the end to find out Ulape and the rest of her tribe had drowned in a shipwreck before they made it to the mainland. The book is historical fiction so there are alot of true historical facts about "Karana" and her island. Of course the author had to use alot of his imagination to fill in all the facts that people didnot know about this Lost Girl of San Nicolas ( the true name of the island today). Most of what was known of "Karana" was few and far between because when she did make it to the U.S. there was no one able to interpret for her because no one knew her langauge. Most of what was told was by her through signs she made to communicate with the Americans at that time in the late 1800's. Some people come to think that the girl was older then 12 and was 20 and the young boy wasn't her brother but her son. Of course its all hearsay as we will never know this young girl's true story. The author though did a great job making this a story about a young girl who was brave , courageous and resourceful that learned to have a love of animals that she never had before. Its a definite must read for those who have children in at least 3rd grade and higher.
I was also able to find a great Reading Guide from Scholastic for Island of the Blue dolphins :