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The Music of Dolphins

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,184 Ratings  ·  503 Reviews
A girl raised by dolphins must choose between two worlds in this critically acclaimed novel about what it means to be a human being.
Paperback, 181 pages
Published February 1st 1998 by Scholastic Paperbacks (first published February 1st 1996)
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Magic of Finkleton by K.C. HiltonMatilda by Roald DahlThe Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankThe Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Teen/Children must reads
36th out of 304 books — 344 voters
The Music of Dolphins by Karen HesseIsland of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'DellRipple by Tui AllenThe Dolphins of Pern by Anne McCaffreyThe Mystic Princesses and the Whirlpool by P.J. LaRue
Books with Dolphins on the Cover
1st out of 20 books — 18 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 09, 2009 Josiah rated it it was amazing
Simply put, this is one of the very Greatest books that I have ever read in my entire life. Karen Hesse's genius interpretations of life lived like an animal gave me constant, visible chills, resounding throughout my body like almost nothing that I have ever seen. The writing is so perfect that I don't want to spoil it by writing too much in this review; I will say just that it is one of the most awe-inspiring masterpieces of literature that I have ever experienced, and in an insanely full year ...more
Kitty Kestrella
Sep 27, 2009 Kitty Kestrella rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I picked this book up when I was in fourth grade. It was then that I decided I wanted to become an author myself.

Yes, a little girl wouldn't be able to survive out at sea for so long. But isn't that the beauty of fiction? Do readers of vampire novels stop and think "How come their skin isn't rotting away, if they're dead?" No, of course they don't. So, you really shouldn't spoil a good story with rational thoughts.

Anyway, back to the book. It's one of my favorite stories from when I was younger.
Oct 21, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was eight years old, and I loved it to pieces. I was old enough then to grasp the significance of how, when Mila (a girl washed away at the age of four and raised by a pod of dolphins) was trying to speak English and interact with the humans who "rescued" her, the font was enormous and the grammar choppy, and as she learned more and more, the font grew smaller and narrower. When all she knew was dolphins, Mila's world was stunningly open and beautiful, and when she learne ...more
Rebecca McNutt
I read this book in junior high school and it was amazing; going back and reading it again sort of changed my opinion on it slightly but nonetheless it's a great book for middle-grade readers.
Cougar Dan Misogynistic Empire
Jun 27, 2007 Cougar Dan Misogynistic Empire rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: four year olds
This is by far the worst work of fiction I have ever read. Feral children are almost impossible to rehabilitate. And it's more than a stretch to ask readers to suspend their disbelief with regard to a girl who's spent most of her life in saltwater. Her skin would have become so waterlogged that it would have developed open soars and rotted off.
This book is nothing more than a very very cheap knock-off of Flowers for Algernon.
Jul 31, 2015 Jessica rated it it was amazing
I loved this book when I was about 11. I still love it. Especially since I know more about feral children. What happens to Mila also reminds me of what happens to dolphins in captivity. The cover is really pretty, but now it bothers me that the depiction of Mila on it is whitewashed. She's supposed to be half Cuban and even calls her skin brown. This edition is closer to how she should be represented.

(view spoiler)
Oct 03, 2011 Kevin rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: middle schoolers
Poignant, lyrically written story of a wild child who struggles not to learn language but to feel a part of our world. A Cuban refuge stranded on an island and essentially raised by dolphins (the premise sounds way hokier in summary than practice; Hesse handles it masterfully) is discovered and brought to an institute where she essentially becomes a test subject. With narration by a protagonist who is rapidly developing as she tells her story, _Music_ calls to mind "Flowers for Algernon." My onl ...more
Sep 30, 2012 Charlie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
As soon as I started reading, I didn't like it. The font was huge and it was written extremely simply. As I got the recommendation from a teen book (honey for a teens heart), I thought it would be very different, not written simple enough for a 6yo learning to read. But it did get a little better in the end.
I see that there are lots of reviews on this book, good and bad, so you'll have to read it to see if you like it or not!!!
Chris Flores
May 06, 2016 Chris Flores rated it it was amazing
I like the Book it is funny the Book. It's a new kind of adventure Dolphins sharks
for jack and Annie join them as they research dolphins and find out
the facts behind the fiction.I recommend to cycy
Jul 18, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it
I remember reading this in middle school and loving it. I don't know how much I would enjoy it now, but maybe I will sometime. It would be great to give to my kids in the future.
Dec 31, 2012 Kyle rated it it was ok
Karen Hesse tried something admirable with this book: Write a heartwarming/breaking story of a girl trying to figure out how she fits in the world. Add some linguistics to spice things up and a few other characters we're supposed to like, and voila! Great book, right?

Not so much. Karen Hesse uses some unusual typography meant to help illustrate the "progress" of Mila, as she learns human language and culture. Unfortunately, instead of seeming unique and creative it adds to the chore of reading t
May 07, 2009 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s, 2009
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Allie 2
Mar 10, 2015 Allie 2 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 08, 2010 Jane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
A wonderful book to read with children. Fifth graders are old enough to appreciate the use of print (fint, size, context) to create meaning. As the main character in this book learns English, the print gets smaller, and then there is a shift and the print begins to get larger. Why? When she thinks about her dolphin life the writing is fluid, poetic and in italics. Even with her simple language this character creates worlds of meaning and beautiful character portraits. Then there is the last line ...more
Aug 29, 2009 Lucy rated it it was ok
I read this with my son's third grade class last May. So, memories are dim.

I consider this Flowers for Algernon lite. The author attempts to teach a similar lesson, that human beings are complex and as experiment subjects, things don't always turn out the best for them, but it doesn't really have the same aftertaste.

A girl survives a plane accident when she is around 4 (her mother and brother die), but she is never discovered and spends the next decade living with an adoptive pod of dolphins un
Sep 12, 2012 Dandylion rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I LOVE THIS BOOK! at first I liked it, in the middle it was okay, but not going like I had hoped, and at the end my heart was broken and put back together again. I love this book! I cried so hard at the end. I don't know why it got to me so much, but it was such a sad story. I don't know how to explain it, I'm still speechless. I will definitely be reading this book again and it's such a fast read! I love how he put the book together, starting out with Huge text when she didn't know much and get ...more
Ash R.
Jun 11, 2009 Ash R. rated it really liked it
This book is about a girl, Mila, who knows not very much because she was raised as a dolphin but was found, taught and brought into the world to learn English. Mila shows her improvement in her change from dolphin girl to earth girl. She tries and wants to give up but getter better and stronger.

I can connect to Mila for trying so hard and having it pay it in the end but just mssing what you use to do because you've done it for so long. Somethings never change and you cant stop people from doing
Aug 03, 2010 Jenelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-before-18
early interest in wild children: story of a girl who was raised with dolphins, "rescued," and re-integrated with human society. at first she displays an eager aptitude, like, she always knew she had something those dolphins didn't! & then, inevitably, a depressed sense of loss, like, she always knew she had something those humans didn't. first-person narration exploits her development, makes an eight year old linguaphile feel like a real scientist. there's a brief description of the way she ...more
Arden Leiker
Apr 19, 2016 Arden Leiker rated it really liked it
One of the reasons I'm giving this 4 stars is because the chapters kind of annoyed me with the longest one being about 5 pages and the shorted one being a sentence AND the font size was like 16. But I did begin the become the main character towards the end feeling the sadness of being taken from your home.
Aaron Wallace
Aug 03, 2014 Aaron Wallace rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was very well set up and easy to read.For example one of the chapters were two sentences long.Over all this is a good book and recamended for young readers.This is why I gave this book 5 stars.
Ashlee Hillin
Feb 21, 2015 Ashlee Hillin rated it it was amazing
This has been one of the best books I have ever read! It is wonderfully heart-wrenching. It opened my eyes to how different we all are.
Nov 03, 2015 Connor rated it it was amazing
Great story about a girl that was raised by dolphins
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Macy Sievers
Apr 11, 2016 Macy Sievers rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing because it shows how family is awesome.
Apr 28, 2015 Jared rated it really liked it
It was a little sad. ;|
Bridget Dettmann
Mar 04, 2016 Bridget Dettmann rated it it was amazing
I first read this book when it was published in 1996, and have owned the same copy of it since then. This is one of the books that helped me fall in love wth reading!

This is a story of a young girl, somewhere between 11 and 16 years old, who was discovered on an island. She spent the first portion of her life being raised by and living with dolphins and is now learning how to be human. Mila is learning how to breathe, move, talk, and read like a human. One very interesting aspect of this book is
Jennie Mars
Dec 30, 2015 Jennie Mars rated it really liked it
Shelves: loved, childhood
If I remember correctly, this is one of those books that my (elementary) school had an excerpt of in one of our textbooks. I remember it catching my attention so much that I wrote down the title and made my mother purchase it for me at a Scholastic Book Fair (remember those?)

I won't "review" it outright, as it has been years since I read this book. I just remember this one being a book that I constantly returned to. I loved the descriptions of her life with the dolphins, I loved the isolation th
Julie Decker
Aug 13, 2014 Julie Decker rated it liked it
Mila doesn't know what being human is about. Having been raised by dolphins (adopted by a dolphin who'd just lost her baby), Mila knows their songs but no other language. She is found and taken to a research facility, where researchers and visitors with different perspectives on her situation interact with her and try to teach her language and other skills. She also meets another child who was raised in isolation, and fixates on music. She develops a particular fascination with Justin, the son o ...more
Dean Deters
Summary-There was a mom,girl, and a little boy that on a plane . The plane crashed. The mom and the little boy die the girl did not die. Mila was raised by dolphins for several years. Mila was reached by doctor beck and sandy . Mila was naked win they found her. Mila was leaning to be hummed . She all was wanted to go back to her dolphn family . Before she wint back to the dolphin she wint to a ripere houseing she had in her room she had a TV and a bed . Her second house house is a really big ho ...more
Tyler Tippets
May 13, 2014 Tyler Tippets rated it really liked it
Good book, very sad!
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Class of 2014: book review 5 18 May 02, 2013 09:27AM  
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Karen Hesse is an American author of children's literature and literature for young adults, often with historical settings. Her novel Out of the Dust was the winner of the 1998 Newbery Medal and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. In 2002, Hesse was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship.

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“I don't know what I am thinking. But I am alone. I am trapped in the net of the room. In the net of humans. I think maybe I am drowning in the net of humans.” 26 likes
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