Amy Novesky Loves
Dear Miss Karana by Eric Elliot
One of my favorite books when I was a kid was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I grew up in a Southern California beach town that looked out on Catalina Island, which is in the same island chain as San Nicolas, where Karana lived. An island was my horizon. Karana was my heroine. I was fascinated by the story of a girl left behind on an island all alone, who grows up and fends for herself. That story has stayed with me years later as a children’s book editor and as an author. There have been no other children’s books about Karana, until now. At a recent book conference, I came across Eric Elliot’s Dear Miss Karana, published by local independent publisher Heyday Books. I was drawn to the book’s watery cover and its appealingly diminutive size, and then delighted to discover that the book was inspired by Scott O’Dell’s extraordinary character, and, of course, the real-life lone woman of San Nicolas Island. At last!
Dear Miss Karana is about 10-year-old Tishmal who, after reading O’Dell’s classic novel, feels a kinship with Karana and begins an email, or tóomawutal-náawish (“thunder writing” in her native language of Chamtéela) correspondence with the spirit of Karana, whom she discovers is from a related Native American Islander tribe. The story is charming and compelling, effortlessly evoking Tishmal’s world that is both of this time and timeless.
Eric Elliot, the author, learned the Chamtéela language as a way to help preserve it. The book is printed in English, but the Chamtéela version is available to download. Wít, ‘iyákko, wít! (OMG) How cool is that? I love this book, and that Heyday published it and books like it, and I have been telling everyone about it, including you. I hope you like it.
Amy Novesky is an award-winning author. Pick up her fantastic books Me, Frida; Georgia in Hawaii; Imogen, the Mother of Modernism and Three Boys; Mister and Lady Day; and the just released Cloth Lullaby at your local Books Inc. today! Amy lives in Sausalito. Visit her at www.amynovesky.com