Monday, September 8, 2014

Middle Grade Review; The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse

The Music of Dolphins

Title: The Music of Dolphins
Author: Karen Hesse
Publisher: Scholastic, 1996. 181 pages.
Source: Library

Mila is found on an atoll, and she has been raised by dolphins from the age of 4. When she's taken back to the US, Mila has a lot of learning and adjusting to do, and it doesn't help that the government claims her as a legitimate study subject, rather than as an adolescent with human needs (as well as some rather dolphinish needs).

Karen Hesse is a fantastic author, and I believe this book won some awards, but I have to admit I didn't really like it. The premise was a bit hard to swallow--exactly how did that work?--though if that is once accepted, the results are logical enough, I guess. The narration is interesting, in the voice of Mila, as a sort of journal. As she learns more and more language she is able to express herself more clearly and we also see her developing a grasp of human nature.

The ending of the book is the source of a large part of my dissatisfaction. Without giving anything away, I will just say that I found it unrealistic and unconvincing as a long-term solution.  Having truly loved many of Hesse's books, I was sorry to find myself unimpressed with this one.

The book is a quick and engaging read, for those (children?) more willing than I to suspend disbelief.  For any reader, it is an interesting insight into human nature, from the perspective of a virtual outsider.

Full Disclosure: I checked Music of Dolphins out of my local library,, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  1. Interesting review... and also interesting how many MG books seem to address issues of girls stranded on islands - with or without dolphins.

    1. Hmm. The last kid I had stranded on an island was male, anyway (The Cay). But I hear you. I guess Mila was on an island. That was one of my issues--the impression that she was at sea with the dolphins as much or more than on land. Just not sure it could be done.

  2. I love honesty in reviews, Rebecca :)

    1. Thanks! I really do try to figure out what my reactions are and why--and if they reflect how others might see it or just my own little quirks, or what I had for breakfast. . .


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