Title: ZiaZia
Author: Scott O’Dell
Pages: 179
Reading Level: 11 & up
Star Rating: ★★★

Remember The Island of the Blue Dolphins? Well, Zia is its sequel!

The Story.

Zia’s mother told her stories before she died. Stories about her sister, Karana, who had been left alone on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. These stories have stayed with Zia always – they have stayed in her mind as a thing she will someday do. And now, finally, it seems possible.

For a small boat has washed onto the shore of the Blue Beach, and whatever is found on the Blue Beach, belongs to the person who found it. Zia decides that she, with her little brother, Mando, will find the Island of the Blue Dolphins and rescue Karana from her solitude there.

But will Zia and Mando make it in their small craft? Can they navigate through the waters properly? Can they catch enough fish? And, most importantly, can they avoid being caught themselves?


The religion in Zia is a cross between Catholicism and pagan superstition. Zia likes Father Vincente, one of the priests at the mission, and goes to confessions with him. She also prays sometimes to the Christian God and to the Virgin Mary (whom she says that she “likes”) while other times she prays to Mukat and Zando. Mando seems to believe exclusively in the pagan gods. This passage properly demonstrates the tension.

Afterward I left the chapel and went outside and down to the beach. Waves were coming in and running up the sand. I knelt down and prayed to Mukat.

In the beginning of the world, according to our tribe, there were two gods, Mukat and Tumaiyowit. The two gods quarreled about many things. Tumaiyowit wished people to die so the earth would not be crowded. Mukat did not. Tumaiyowit went down to another world. He took all his belongings with him, so people die because he died.

I prayed to Mukat for the runaways and for Karana. I had already prayed to the white man’s god and now I prayed to our own. I thought that two gods would help me better than just one.

Then I decided to pray to Coyote because Mukat, in the time of creation, had become quarrelsome and people got very tired of him. They burned Mukat but Coyote saved his heart and ran north with it and wherever he went Mukat’s dripping heart left quantities of gold.

But at last, before bed that night, I went to the chapel of the Virgin and prayed to Her as Father Vincente had taught me to pray. [pg. 107]

Several sailors disagree over whether having a woman onboard ship will bring good or bad luck. After several days of fine fishing with Zia onboard, a sailor boasts that he was right in believing that Zia would bring good luck. Later that day, the man drowns horribly. (We are left to wonder whether Zia was bad or good luck).

When Karana becomes ill, Zia fetches a medicine man who prays to his gods and uses an eagle feather, a black shell, etc. as part of his cure.

Zia is a mature, responsible girl who governs herself well. Her little brother, Mando, however, is still impetuous, and he sometimes rejects her wise counsel. This leads to disagreements between the two of them.

A fiesta is held at the mission; all of the young people dance together. Nothing inappropriate happens – Zia dances with a young man who had paid attentions to her formerly.

Zia writes that several girls went to the mission because they thought it would be a good way to meet boys.

A lie is told.

Conclusion. If you have read/enjoyed Island of the Blue Dolphins, then you will appreciate the end of Karana’s story.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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