Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SCOTT O'DELL, Author of ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS and Lover of Librarians (He was married to one!)

Scott O’Dell was born on May 23, 1898 in Los Angeles, Ca. While growing up, he traveled all around Southern California and was able to see and experience many different things. His family moved around a lot because his father was a railroad worker. When he was young, he loved being in the outdoors - especially swimming at the beach, where he could experience sea life.

Scott O’Dell attended several colleges:  Occidental College in 1919, the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1920, Stanford University from 1920-21, and the University of Rome in 1925. He only took classes that interested him and helped him in his writing career. As an adult he had several different jobs before he became a writer...he was a Hollywood cameraman (and even worked on the film Ben Hur!)... during WWII, he served in the Air Force...and at one time he was even a rancher.  O’Dell began writing both nonfiction and fiction books for adults in 1934. During the 1940s and 1950s he worked as a book columnist for the Los Angeles Mirror, as well as a book editor for the Los Angeles Daily News. He began writing children's books in the late 1950's.  Mr. O'Dell died in 1989.

"Married to children’s librarian Elizabeth O’Dell, who would be his lifelong supporter and first-reader for his books, Scott loved no group of people more than librarians—they read his books, they could tell him what children said, and they appreciated his stories. Although Island of the Blue Dolphins was published when Scott was in his sixties, he lived and wrote for another thirty years and crafted other superb novels: Zia; Black Star, Bright Dawn; The King’s Fifth; The Black Pearl. Always personally generous with the money from his books, Scott set up the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction to help other authors receive recognition for their efforts." - Anita Silvey

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS (1961, Newbury Medal) Definitely in our Top-Ten-Family-Favorites, this book is based on the life of a real woman who lived alone on the island of San Nicolas, off the coast of California, from 1835 to 1853. She was named "Juana Maria" by a priest at the Santa Barbara Mission, who was with her when she died only seven weeks after she was rescued by George Nidever. She is buried in the S.B. Mission Cemetery.

This was the cover art on the edition we had.
I love the haunting expression on Karana's face.
We took our three children to the Santa Barbara Mission Cemetery, where
Juana Maria is buried, and saw this plaque dedicated to her memory.

A few more titles of his historical fiction for Young Adult readers:
The King's Fifth (1966, Newbury Honor)
The King's Fifth
The Black Pearl (1967, Newbury Honor)
The Black Pearl
Sing Down the Moon (1970, Newbury Honor)
Sing Down the Moon
and Black Star, Bright Dawn (1988)
Black Star, Bright Dawn Graphia edition

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