Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell Did you see the movie Pocahontas? What would have happened to the Indian tribe if Pocahontas had not made a friend of John Smith? How did the Indian tribes live in those days before their lives were changed forever by the coming of the Europeans? Have you ever imagined what life would be like on a deserted island? When the first Europeans came to the 'New World', as the Americas were called, they came seeking fame and fortune. Fortunes were made from hunting otter for their thick pelts or other animals such as whales for their oil, or from finding precious metals such as gold. Sometimes they came and destroyed, mercilessly killing animals and even Indian people. Sometimes they took the Indian people away from their homes and settled them in a new environment where they were not free to follow their old lifestyle any more. Scott O'Dell tells the true story of an Indian girl whose tribe was taken away from their island in the Channel Islands. Karana jumps overboard, as the ship taking her tribe away heads out to sea. Why does she jump? (Read the excerpt below to find out from page 34). 'I was overcome with fear. 'Where is my brother?' I cried. He repeated what he had told me on the beach, but as he spoke, Ulape who stood behind him pointed towards the island. I looked out across the deck and the sea. There, running along the cliff, the fishing spear held over his head, was Ramo (aged six). The sails had filled and the ship was now moving slowly away. Everyone was looking towards the cliff, even the white men. I ran to one of them and pointed, but he shook his head and turned from me. The ship began to move faster. Against my will, I screamed. Chief Matasaip grasped my arm. 'We cannot wait for Ramo,' he said. 'If we do, the ship will be driven on the rocks.' Karana (aged 12) has brought up her younger brother Ramo, ever since their mother died, and now that their father is dead, she feels doubly responsible. She risks many dangers, experiencing terrible tragedy, living like Robinson Crusoe, waiting for the ship that took her tribe away to return for her. Scott O'Dell writes with vivid clarity and great detail that capture the wild ruggedness of the traditional Indian lifestyle. Karana's story is so freshly told, you would think she was interviewed by the author, but in fact she has been dead for more than 100 years! In each chapter of Island of the Blue Dolphins, Karana faces new perils, surviving by the wisdom of her ancestors and her own ingenuity and perseverance. As well as being moved by this astonishing but true story, teachers can explore the themes of survival, environmentalism, primitive civilisations, and animal rights. Winner of the Newbery medal of literature. Price: $62 (Available at Skywalker Books Ltd. 17/Floor, Tak Woo House, 17 D'Aguilar St, Central. Telephone 25215222).