By Scott O’Dell, published 1976
“Mission Santa Barbara, where the Padres were taking us, was near the Island of the Blue Dolphins…Perhaps if I went there, I could find one who would help me reach the island and bring Karana back.”
This historical fiction children’s book is a sequel to Island of Blue Dolphins. I think it is essential to read the first book before this one. Part of this children’s book provides a glimpse into what happened to Karana after she moved from the Island. However, that is actually only a small portion of the book, since her life after leaving the island was tragically short. The majority of the book is a chilling depiction of the treatment of the Native American Indian population during the time of the California missions (1769-1821).
Personally, I was pretty naive and shocked to discover that the missions treated the local native population as servants, in the name of civilizing and converting them. As a San Diego historical website states, “Despite good intentions the mission system decimated and destroyed native peoples subject to it.”
This is not an easy children’s book to read. It is pretty sobering, from start to finish. However, it is an important part of our history. I would use this book in a classroom or homeschool setting, for 6th grade and up. It will facilitate a discussion on an important part of our past, particularly in California.
I would like to acknowledge the writing skill of Scott O’Dell. The language is very straightforward, as if we are listening to language in translation, so it creates a flavor of a distant time. In addition, the final ending offers a spark of light in an otherwise sad story.