Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Book Review of The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse

Name of Book: The Music of Dolphins

Author: Karen Hesse

ISBN: 0-590-89798-5

Publisher: Scholastic

Type of book: Dolphins, feral children, speech therapy, giving back, survival, young adult

Year it was published: 1996


Mila creates headlines around the world when she is rescued from an unpopulated island off the coast of Florida. Now a teenager, she has been raised by dolphins from the age of four.

Researchers teach Mila language and music. She learns, too, about rules and expectations, about locked doors and broken promises, disappointment and betrayal.

The more Mila finds out what it means to be human, the more deeply she longs for her ocean home...


The only character that I knew and understood is Mila. Dr. Beck, Shay and others I couldn't understand them, although I did kind of understand Shay and wished to know more about her. We also learn about dolphins, Mila's family. I did feel that there is some contradictions, such as when the characters go and search for Mila's dolphin family, and someone sees dolphins, but Mila says they aren't her family and one can't go up to them just like with humans. I couldn't understand why she didn't apply this type knowledge to her human experience.


If one finds  a feral child, its better to leave them in a natural habitat rather than try to acclimate them to the society.


This is in first person narrative completely from Mila's point of view. We watch as Mila acquires the necessary skills and words to talk about herself and her emotions about living on land being a human, and then things and cause her to lose the acquired skills. Its an interesting story, and just like in other books, ultimately a feral person cannot adapt to society.

Author Information:

Karen Hesse is the distinguished author of nine books for young readers. among them Letters from Rifka, winner of the Christopher Medal and the International Reading Association Award fro Young Adult Fiction; Phoenix Rising, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; Sable, a  school Library Journal Best Book of hte Year; and, most recently, A Time of Angels.

"The Music of Dolphins began as a book about speech development, and evolved into something very different," says Ms. Hesse. "Mila proved to me she was more than a clinical specimen, just as she did to the characters in the book."

Karen Hesse lives wit her husband and two daughters in Williamsville, Vermont.


I liked this book in middle school, and apparently years later this hasn't changed. I read it and still found it interesting and fascinating. The book does involve plot stretches such as how Mila can survive in a sea for such a long time, or how she took care of her colds or whatnot, or why not die from thermal problems. I actually liked the font changes, seeing how Mila acquired knowledge and at a certain point the knowledge abandoned her. I couldn't understand how the knowledge slipped away from her though, or why for that matter.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)


  1. I read the book and I loved it !!!!!

  2. this book was super good now got to do a project on it


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