Karana, twelve-year-old daughter of a chief, lives with her people on a small island off the coast of California. One spring a ship, carrying Aleut otter hunters, arrives at the island. The Russian captain asks permission from Karana's father to hunt sea otters in the waters around the island and to camp on the island while they hunt. In return, the captain promises to repay the Indians for the otter pelts with an equal share of goods. Chief Chowig agrees, but also warns his people to beware of the visitors. When the time comes for the Aleuts to leave, the Russian captain tries to pay much less for the pelts than he agreed. Chief Chowig, with a group of armed men, confronts the Aleuts. There is a brief fight, and when the Aleuts escape with the otter pelts, 27 men from Karana's tribe, including Karana's father, lie dead. The remaining people decide that they no longer wish to live on the island surrounded by the memories of their slain fathers, sons, and brothers. Kimki, the new chief, paddles a canoe to the mainland and sends back a ship to take the whole tribe to a new home. When the ship arrives, Karana and her people prepare to leave and hurry to the beach to board the ship. As the ship sets sail Karana looks back at the island and sees that her brother Ramo has been left behind. Against the protests of her people, Karana throws herself into the sea and swims back to the island, not willing to leave her brother alone. As the ship sails off, Karana tells Ramo that it will return for them soon. The special companionship of a faithful dog and the daily struggle to provide food pass the time as Karana waits for the ship's return. A pack of wild dogs that lives on the island is only the first of many dangers Karana must face, and soon she must face the grief of losing her brother to the dogs. But Karana exemplifies a simple hope in the eventual return of a rescue ship, while at the same time learning to survive stranded on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Interactive CD-rom.