100 Chapter Books Project: Island of the Blue Dolphins

Blue_dolphins

In the middle of the Top 100 Chapter Books list is Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960) by Scott O’Dell.

What it’s about: An island off the California coast, west of Santa Catalina Island, is inhabited by a group of native people. They end up losing most of their men when Russian and Aleutian hunters come for sea otters and end up trying to cheat the tribe of the promised remuneration. When it is time for the group to relocate to the mainland to the east, Karana is accidentally left behind. This book is her story of survival.

Age level: Grades 4-6

Best part: I loved Karana’s evolution from killing almost every kind of animal on and around the island to finding alternate sources of food and supplies, based on her increased relationships with many different species, including dogs, birds, and otters.

Worst part: I honestly wished Karana would stay on the island forever. When the mainlanders immediately made her a dress that covered her from chin to ankle, it made me sad for the freedom that she was losing and worried about the things she would face in their world.

Verdict: Buy

In case you’re wondering (and because I’ve been kind of grumpy over a few recent reads), this is only the 39th book I’ve given a straight “Buy” to out of 79. This is absolutely one of the best historical fictions I’ve ever read. I think O’Dell did a fantastic job with Karana’s story. Also, the choice of Tantoo Cardinal as narrator for the audiobook was perfect. The attention to detail, the tackling of a lesser known area and culture, and the choice of main character and her evolution through time are all stellar. I felt like I was there watching Karana work and survive. Her breaking of the taboos against women doing certain things in her culture was wonderful. And her relationship with the animals was something that a nature nerd like me dreams of. This story was inspired by the real life story of “Juana Maria”, who was on the island of San Nicolas for 18 years (1835-1853) and who indeed died about seven weeks after her “rescue”, which makes me sad. The people of the time blamed malnutrition but I would guess she contracted a host of diseases rather soon after arriving in California.

Next I’ll be reading Matilda, which is another one that I don’t think I’ve actually read, though I know the story. I’m already terrified of the Trunchbull so I’m wary of delving into this one!

*****
Schedule – May through August
May 31 – #30 Matilda by Roald Dahl (1988)
June 15 – #37 The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (2007)
June 30 – #27 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1935)
July 15 – #94 Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary (1977)
July 31 – #44 Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt (2011)
August 15 – #76 Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (2007)

The Scary Good Mini-Challenge

Scary Good

Welcome to the April 2016 Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon! This is the SCARY GOOD challenge, and it’s pretty simple. While we may not all be into horror, perhaps we pick up a book that sends a shiver up our spines even if we aren’t really expecting it. Or perhaps the book makes us think about a “confronting” topic. That’s scary enough for us.

The Task:

Tell us about a book you’ve loved that has scared you in some regard. Leave a comment below OR link up a social media post via the linky widget. Don’t forget to leave contact information if you’re not easily reached!

The Prize: 

A book from BookDepository.com worth $15 or less. This is giveaway is open to international participants.

The winner will be announced and contacted once the event wraps up!

100 Chapter Books Project: The Ruins of Gorlan

ruinsofgorlan

Some of the votes for the Top 100 Chapter Books list came from students and I’m guessing that The Ruins of Gorlan (2006) by John Flanagan was one of the ones that they voted in. This isn’t a literary wonder or an instant classic but it was sure a fun start to a series!

What it’s about: Will is an orphan, and for all of his life he has been a ward of the castle of Baron Arald. He’s now fifteen and of an age to become apprentice to one of the Craftmasters and he’s hoping to attend Battleschool, to train as a warrior and become a knight. However, his skills uniquely qualify him to apprentice as a Ranger, a spy/scout. Whether this path will be fulfilling and if he will be successful is up to him.

Age level: Grades 4-6

Best part: I actually loved the hints of The Lord of the Rings in the story and I also enjoyed the way the relationships between Will and the other wards changed through time. Also, nobody (and no horses) died, which was refreshing.

Worst part: I now have 11 books ahead of me to find out what happens in the war and beyond to Will and his friends!

Verdict: Buy/Borrow

This series was written by the author for his own reluctant reader son so it’s heavy on plot and emotion. I definitely found myself reading it faster and faster to find out what was going to happen. It was definitely derivative of a lot of different adventure series but it was still compelling. I really didn’t expect to like is as much as I did. I do hope that the rest of the series is as engaging because I’ll be recommending it to some of the reluctant readers at Z’s school.

Now, I don’t know why I never read Island of the Blue Dolphins but I’m finally getting my chance. I’ll admit that I still don’t know what it is about but I think it’s based on a true story? I guess I’ll find out!

*****
Schedule – May through July
May 15 – #45 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (1960)
May 31 – #30 Matilda by Roald Dahl (1988)
June 15 – #37 The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (2007)
June 30 – #27 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1935)
July 15 – #94 Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary (1977)
July 31 – #44 Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt (2011)