Island of the Blue Dolphins this year as part of their study of California history. I read a number of chapters with the students on my volunteer days and was intrigued. I know I read this book as a girl, but I didn't remember a lot. I checked it out from the library and read it in a few evenings (and one afternoon out on the lawn, as you can see from the photo). It is at times somewhat violent and sad, but ultimately a very good book for preteens, I would say.
And...it is based on the true story of a Native American woman, christened Juana Maria after her rescue in 1853 from San Nicolas Island off the coast of California where she had lived alone for about eighteen years. The novel really makes you think about how you might survive all on your own, physically and emotionally. Juana Maria is buried at the Santa Barbara Mission and I think I might make a detour there the next time I am passing through.
This is a fascinating bit of history and with O'Dell's imagination, it really comes to life.