I think it was Grade 8 when I had to read 'Island of the Blue Dolphins' by Scott O'Dell for school and I remember that I loved it. However, up until Catherine and I read it again over the last week I didn't remember much of the story or why I loved it so it really was a wonderful rediscovery for me.
Where our last book, Seaward, felt too fussy at times and like a short story fluffed into a novel, Island of the Blue Dolphins felt exactly right. No fluff whatsoever and every word needed. The chapters were short and inevitably sucked me right into the next so that it was a treat to read out loud. I'd sit down intending to read for half an hour but go on until my voice was disappearing and I was pushing the two hour mark.
Catherine loved it as well. How could she not? A girl trapped on an island who challenges cultural norms, proves herself strong and capable AND befriends animals left and right? This book almost seems tailor-made for Catherine. I'm fairly confident the Karana and Rontu will have a place in her imagination for quite awhile.
Here's a link to the sequel (which I didn't know existed and will have to pick up):
The book is, of course, based on a true story. We might explore that a bit if Catherine wants to and some of the links I've found are as follows:
Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island
PDF from the Museum of Man
PDF with a map of San Nicholas and a few activities on Island of the Blue Dolphin
EThemes list of resoures on Island of the Blue Dolphins