Marshmallow reviews Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Today Marshmallow reviews another classic, Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell, first published in 1960. She has been reading a school copy of this book with her class and she was fascinated to learn that the story was based on a real young Native American girl who lived alone for many years on San Nicolas Island during the 19th century.

Marshmallow reviews Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.
Marshmallow reviews Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about finding friends in unexpected places, or young people surviving very difficult situations, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers):  Twelve-year-old Karana has lived on the Island of the Blue Dolphins for all her life with her family. So when her father, the chief, is killed, her tribe’s new chief decides that he will leave the island. He does not return and then white missionaries come and tell them that they need to pack up and get on their ships. When the boats are leaving, Karana realizes that her brother Ramo is not on any of the boats. When she runs to find him, she learns that he had left to find his fishing spear. Then they realize that the ships have left without them. 

Later while they are on the island alone, Karana leaves to collect needed items and comes back to find Ramo dead. Wild dogs had killed him and so she decided that she would take revenge on the wild dogs. So she builds weapons, which is against her tribe’s laws because women are not allowed to make weapons. So as she continues to try to get revenge she eventually makes friends with one of the wild dogs, whom she names Rontu.

Eventually she makes a hut (my favorite part) and a fence around it to make something sort of like a yard. And so she gets used to living on the island. But still she wonders if the ships will return.

Marshmallow is reading Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.
Marshmallow is reading Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.

Marshmallow’s Review: This is a sad and well-written book. It is so sad how Karana’s father and brother die and she is left alone on the island without any one else. I felt really sad that Karana was left alone and she had to survive all by herself.

Island of the Blue Dolphins is a very moving book that every bunny should read at some point. It is a very good book for (probably older) readers. It might be sad for younger ones.

Reading Island of the Blue Dolphins can make the reader wonder what they would do if they were in Karana’s situation. I think that it would be very difficult for me to do all she has done, especially to build a house all by myself because I’m a bunny.

The book shows that humans can be very cruel to each other because people who had come to hunt otters on Karana’s island killed Karana’s father. But it also shows that humans can be very resourceful because Karana is very young but manages to survive on the island all by herself.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell 95%.
Marshmallow rates Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell 95%.

Caramel reviews Storm Boy by Paul Owen Lewis

This week Caramel reviews a book about a Haida prince and his adventure into the spiritual world of the whale people: Storm Boy, written and illustrated by Paul Owen Lewis. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Storm Boy by Paul Owen Lewis.
Caramel reviews Storm Boy by Paul Owen Lewis.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, tell us a bit about what this book is about.

Caramel: I think this is a very good book about a Haida prince, who was lost in the sea in a storm. Then he went to the spirit world of the killer whale people.

S: Wait, who are the killer whale people?

C: You don’t know what killer whales are? They are also called orcas!

S: Well, let me see. Wikipedia says that the killer whale is “a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. Killer whales have a diverse diet, although individual populations often specialize in particular types of prey. Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals such as seals and other species of dolphin.” Wow! I did not know that killer whales “are highly social; some populations are composed of matrilineal family groups (pods) which are the most stable of any animal species. Their sophisticated hunting techniques and vocal behaviours, which are often specific to a particular group and passed across generations, have been described as manifestations of animal culture.” That is cool!

C: That is like a huge family…

S: Yes and they pass on what they know to their offspring, just like humans, and bunnies! But what do killer whales have to do with this Haida prince?

C: He is saved by them. And they also help him get home in the end.

S: But Caramel, when we look at the pictures of the book, we see large human-shaped people, not whales!

C: Because that is when they are in human form.

S: What do you mean?

C: The end of the book tells us that.

S: Yes, you are right. The author put some notes at the end of the book to explain some of what’s going on. So it is there we learn that this is a traditional hero’s journey story, told in the tradition of Northwestern American peoples. The following quote by Joseph Campbell is used to help us understand the story deeper:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

Joseph Campbell

C: And according to the way the Haida people see the world, all animals are like people, and they can take human form.

Caramel is looking at the part of Storm Boy by Paul Owen Lewis where the Haida prince is welcomed to the house of the chief of the killer whale people.
Caramel is looking at the part of Storm Boy by Paul Owen Lewis where the Haida prince is welcomed to the house of the chief of the killer whale people.

S: That is such an interesting way to see the world, isn’t it Caramel? That all animals are like us, they too have their homes, families, and cultures? And we can communicate with them if we want or at least we can try…

C: Yep.

S: So if you could meet one such people, what type of people would you like to meet? Whale people? Wolf people? Badger people?

C: I don’t know. I’m just a bunny, and I guess I would want to meet other bunny people.

S: That would be neat, wouldn’t it? So what else do you want to say about this book?

C: I want to rate this book like Marshmallow does in all her reviews. I rate it 100%! This is a neat book for all little bunnies! And big bunnies too. The pictures are very colorful!

S: And they have such detail in them! You are right, older folks could also get much out of this… Anyways Caramel, it is about time for us to wrap this up. So-

C: Stay tuned for more book bunnies reviews!

Caramel rates Storm Boy by Paul Owen Lewis 100%.
Caramel rates Storm Boy by Paul Owen Lewis 100%.

Caramel reviews Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska by Deb Vanasse

Caramel reviews Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska written by Deb Vanasse and illustrated by Erik Brooks.

Today Caramel wanted to talk about one of his favorite books: Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska written by Deb Vanasse and illustrated by Erik Brooks. Sprinkles is asking questions along the way and taking notes.

Caramel reviews Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska written by Deb Vanasse and illustrated by Erik Brooks.
Caramel reviews Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska written by Deb Vanasse and illustrated by Erik Brooks.

Sprinkles: Let us talk about this book Caramel. What is it about?

Caramel: It is about a totem pole which is enchanted.

S: In what way?

C: When it’s a full moon, it comes to life. The whole totem pole.

S: Tell me more. What is a totem pole?

C: A totem pole is a tall pole made of wood, with animals carved into parts of it. And it is painted. Here is what Wikipedia says about them: totem poles are “monumental carvings, a type of Northwest Coast art, consisting of poles, posts or pillars, carved with symbols or figures”.

S: And this one is a totem pole in Alaska, according to the book title. And again according to Wikipedia, a totem is “a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe.” So how does this particular totem pole come to life? Tell me more Caramel.

C: I can just read from the book:

“Deep in a cedar forest stood a totem pole, stark and still. Long ago a carver stacked the totem animals and then forgot them.”

S: Well, maybe he did not forget them. Since it was a long ago, maybe he died. Maybe his people had to leave the forest.

Caramel invited a green friend to read Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska. Can you see him?
Caramel invited a green friend to read Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska with. Can you see his tail?

C: Yes, that is possible too. Let me continue to read.

“One night the moon rose low and full. Washed in the light of moonbeams, the totems SPRANG to life.”

S: That sounds exciting! So then what happens?

C: They go have fun for a night. As real living animals.

S: Then what happens?

C: Then before the sun rises they have to return to the pole or else they will have never been. Which is sad. Really sad.

S: Yes, it is sad! Then what happens?

C: None of them can remember the order of the totem pole. How they started in the beginning, like who was on top, who was under, and so on. They all brag about themselves and try to take the supposedly place of honor on the very top.

Caramel and his friend the Loch Ness Monster are reading Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska together.
Caramel and his friend the Loch Ness Monster are reading Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska together.

S: But most of their attempts fail, right?

C: Yes, they fail and come tumbling down to the ground.

S: Until … well maybe we shouldn’t give away the whole thing.

C: Okay, fine.

S: So what do you like about this book most Caramel?

C: I like the animals. They’re so cute! Like us bunnies!

S: So what animals are there among the totems?

C: Let me see. There is a frog, there’s a beaver, an eagle, a bear, and a wolf, and a raven. That is the order of the totem pole.

S: Really? How can the frog carry the bear?

C: I don’t know. Well they’re all made of wood, aren’t they?

S: And of course this is a story! it doesn’t have to make sense in all ways.

C: But in the end the order does make sense. And the Raven explains it.

S: Ok, let’s not give away any more. But this is a magical story really. And I totally understand why you like it so much. Alright, this is a good place to end this review. What last thing do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny adventures!

Caramel loves to read and reread Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska written by Deb Vanasse and illustrated by Erik Brooks.
Caramel loves to read and reread Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska written by Deb Vanasse and illustrated by Erik Brooks.