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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of English Language and Literature


Sara Schwebel publishes the book “Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition” (UC Press, 2016)

Associate Professor of English has published the first ever critical edition of this novel.

Sara Schwebel 's edition includes a scholarly introduction, a detailed history of the author's writing process, and two fascinating chapters excised from the original draft.

As the publisher announces: “This is the first authoritative edition of one of the most significant children’s books of the twentieth century. Winner of the 1961 Newbery Medal, Island of the Blue Dolphins tells the story of a girl left alone for eighteen years in the aftermath of violent encounters with Europeans on her home island off the coast of Southern California.” Its essays “offer new background on the archaeological, legal, and colonial histories of Native peoples in California. Sara L. Schwebel explores the composition history and editorial decisions made by author Scott O’Dell that ensured the success of Island of the Blue Dolphins at a time when second-wave feminism, the civil rights movement, and multicultural education increasingly influenced which books were taught. This edition also considers how readers might approach the book today, when new archaeological evidence is emerging about the ‘Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island,’ on whom O’Dell’s story is based, and Native peoples are engaged in the reclamation of indigenous histories and ongoing struggles for political sovereignty.”

Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader's Edition is part of a larger project that includes a digital archive tracing the 150-year-old history of telling the protagonist’s story (the nineteenth-century California Indian fictionalized as Karana in the novel) and a multimedia web resource on Scott O'Dell's book. The digital archive and web resource will launch on the Channel Islands National Park homepage in January 2017.