Caroline Lawrence chooses an historical novel based on a true story…
I love stories that transport you to another world and another time, but a real world, not a fantasy one. In other words, I love historical novels.
Island of the Blue Dolphins is not well known in the UK, but is considered a classic in America. It is the story of Karana, a twelve-year-old Native American girl whom tragedy abandons on an island off the coast of California. Alone except for a pack of wild dogs, Karana shows astonishing bravery and resourcefulness.
This book is based on a true story. I love the clear, simple prose that paints a thrilling story of heartbreaking beauty. The author, Scott O’Dell, was born over a hundred years ago. He was a descendant of Sir Walter Scott and a Hollywood cameraman. What I especially admire about his writing is how visual it is. O’Dell shows us a world of great beauty: otters eating abalone in their kelp beds, a skirt made of shimmering cormorant feathers, a white dog howling in a grotto, a tidal wave: blood red in the setting sun. And dolphins, of course.
After his death in 1989, O’Dell’s family chartered a boat to scatter his ashes into the Pacific Ocean. As the boat turned for home, a dozen dolphins appeared and swam joyfully beside it.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell is published by Puffin (978 0 14 030268 4, £5.99 pbk).
Caroline Lawrence’s latest book is The Man from Pomegranate Street, the final volume of ‘The Roman Mysteries’ series (Orion Children’s Books, 978 1 84255 193 6, £9.99 hbk).