#SoRatherBeYoung: The Unknown & Unfamiliar

Estelle and I are teaming up to celebrate the books that turned us into readers with "You Make Me Feel So Young." In each post, we'll be highlighting three books: one joint read that we both loved growing up and then we'll each pick a book for one another (something we loved that the other one hasn't read yet).
Joint Pick: ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS by Scott O'Dell | First Published: 1960 

More Than You Know: Island of the Blue Dolphins is inspired by the true story of the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island, Juana Maria. I've always been fascinated by that fact, but I was even more intrigued to learn that archaeologists believe that may have found Juana Maria's cave. There was previously no known habitation on the island, so it was a very exciting discovery! And how cool to find relics from her life?!

Memories are Made of This: Unlike with Harriet the Spy, I felt like I was a little more familiar with Island of the Blue Dolphins... although I still couldn't have shared a play-by-play of the plot. I definitely remembered that this was the story of a girl who was living alone on an island off the coast of California. I knew it was the story of how she'd survived, but I forgot that she was surrounded by people when the book began!  

Second Time Around: I really enjoyed re-reading this book! It was never a favorite for me growing (mostly because I wasn't drawn to survival stories), but I did have fond memories of it. That being said, I didn't remember how sad and serious the book is. As a child, I think I was captivated by the the setting and fascinated by the things Karana had to do to survive. It was more of an adventure story than anything else! As an adult, I think I was more connected to the emotions in the story. I saw Karana's grief after losing her family and community, and I recognized her isolation in a way I didn't as a child.

You Can Take My Word for It, Baby: I would definitely read this book to my kids! I read an article after finishing the book criticizing its portrayal of the Aleuts, so I'd want to make sure that I kept that in mind while reading it. I think problematic books can still be worth reading, especially if you out them in the proper context. I know it's not a perfect read, but I think it has a lot to offer and would fascinate young readers!
Estelle's Pick for Me: THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND | First Published: 1958

Do You Know Why? I'm sure Hannah was shocked to know a historical fiction was one of my favorites of childhood but it's true. I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond for summer school reading; it was one of those assignments that never felt like one. (The best kind.) Accusations, new beginnings, and one very, complicated situation = so much to discuss. (Probably why it was a school pick for so many.) I hope Hannah finds it as memorable as I did. - from Estelle

Can't You Just See Yourself: I remember hearing about this book as a kid, but I'm pretty sure that I thought it was actually about witchcraft so I wasn't interested in reading it. What a mistake on my part! I'm guilty of exactly what the people in Kit's Connecticut community were guilty of - making assumptions about something without knowing much about it. Let me tell you, I would have loved this book as a kid. It's right up my alley!

I Give You My Word: I absolutely loved The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and I'm so glad Estelle chose it for me to read! As Estelle said, there's so much to discuss with this book. From a pure reading standpoint, it was such an engaging and enjoyable book. I have no doubt that I would have been hooked as a kid. But you know what's even better? It's such a layered and nuanced story. I loved every single character - the strong heroine, the captain's son, the mysterious Quaker woman, the lonely little girl... In addition to the plot and characters, I adored the setting and the historical detail. I literally can't think of anything to critcize!

Before the Music Ends: I cannot believe that I didn't read this book as a kid. If I ever needed proof that preconceived notions can keep you from incredible things, this book is it! This is a classic for a reason, and I can see why it's often taught in school. If you haven't read it yet, you're missing out. And if it's been a while since you read, I'd definitely suggest revisiting it. I think you'll find even more to love!

Have you read either of these books? What do you remember? 
Comment or join the conversation with #SoRatherBeYoung.


  1. I loved Island of the Blue Dolphins growing up! It was always interesting to me to see how she survived for so long on her own, plus it definitely played a part in my fascination with dolphins. So glad you guys enjoyed your reread! And I've never read The Witch of Blackbird Pond either, but it sounds like it's really good reading. Got to check that out at some point!

  2. Love this feature! I read Island of the Blue Dolphins in 4th grade I think? Maybe 5th. It was not my favorite, I've never really enjoyed survival stories but I'm wondering if I'd like it more as an adult! My mom loved it and I've actually seen the grave of the real woman at the Santa Barbara Mission! Very interesting.

    Ooh Witch of Blackbird Pond! I don't remember much except that I read it in 6th grade and really liked it. I'd love to revisit it.

  3. Confession: Scott O'Dell is one of a handful of authors where I soundly dislike all of his books--something I discovered as a kid. It was one of the first times I realized that the way some authors write just might not work for every reader.

    I was very excited when I saw your post mentioned The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I read it as a child when my aunt got me a copy (she worked at HMH so I had a lot of books from them as a child) and I loved it. I gave away my copy after reading it and regretted it ever since particularly because so many other editions have rather unappealing covers. But then I found the exact edition I read and am happy to have the copy in my collection again. I'm planning a re-read soon! I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it as well.

  4. I loved island of the blue dolphins! I remember visiting the Santa Barbara mission and thinking it was so cool her grave was there. Also there's a sequel to the book Zia, about her niece, although it's not nearly as good.


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