The Music of Dolphins
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The Music of Dolphins

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  3,602 ratings  ·  379 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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The Magic of Finkleton by K.C. HiltonHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingMatilda by Roald DahlThe Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankSwitch! The Lost Kingdoms of Karibu by Karen  Prince
Teen/Children must reads
57th out of 184 books — 308 voters
Ripple by Tui AllenThe Music of Dolphins by Karen HesseThe Mystic Princesses and the Whirlpool by P.J. LaRueIsland of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'DellThe Dolphins of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
Books with Dolphins on the Cover
2nd out of 17 books — 14 voters

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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 5 of 5 stars 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....more
Cougar Dan Misogynistic Empire
Jun 27, 2007 Cougar Dan Misogynistic Empire rated it 1 of 5 stars 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.
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
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!!!
I did not like this book at all. There are soooo many things wrong with this book. I only read this book because I participated in a reading team competition and this was one of the required books.

First, this book was designed for two-year-olds. I was shocked that it was chosen for a reading team competition. The font was huge and it was about triple spaced. Also, there was a poor use of grammar and sentence structure. The book was told through the eyes of Mila, the main character, and she talk...more
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...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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...more
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.
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...more
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
Oct 03, 2011 Kevin rated it 4 of 5 stars 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
I really enjoyed reading this book, and i have learned no one can be truly and completely changed. Also you cant take something wild, and try to tame it. And finally you cant make someone do something they dont want to do. I would recommend this book for anyone!
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.
Jeff Crosby
The Publishers Weekly copy featured on the back cover accurately portrays this small book from Newberry Medalist Karen Hesse (author of "Out of the Dust" and "Phoenix Rising," among others) when it says:

"As moving as a sonnet, as eloquently structured as a bell curve, this book poignantly explores the most profound of themes - what it means to be human...." The arc of the story of young Mila and her life among dolphins, and then humans, and back among dolphins is reinforced subtly and powerfully...more
Michelle Crunkleton-Clark
The Music of Dolphins is a moving story with an interesting voice. It is the first person account of a girl who was raised by dolphins and then "rescued". The voice of this dolphin girl reminds me of "The Sound and The Fury" and "Flowers for Algernon."(Even though those books are very different, if you've read them too, I think you would see what I mean.) It is a Reading Olympics book this year and my 11yo twins and I read it together. It made a great read aloud and engendered a lot of thoughtfu...more
March 13, 2007
Elizabeth and I just finished reading The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse. It was excellent! One of many great quotes from this book: "When the dolphin groups gather, there are stories, there is joy. We jump the waves, and race, and chase the darting fish. And sometimes the boys fight or chase a girl and then the sea churns and inside my stomach twists like a tight net biting into the tender parts of me, but the next day all is good again and the dolphins are friends, and if that...more
I've had this book for a very long time. And I've probably read it about once a year. Even though its a children's book, it is very thought provoking.

Mila is a young girl who, after her capture by humans, goes to live in a research house where they teach her language, music, and other necessary skills. You see, Mila had been living with dolphins for the greater portion of her life, surviving in the sea and knowing nothing else. Of course the change is a great shock to her but she gradually adapt...more
Another book that I think I would have liked at the intended age of the audience, but didn't do a lot for me now. That is, had I been able to tear myself away from my normal genre of accidentally-transported-into-the-past novels. It's about a young girl marooned on an island in a storm at age four, who ends up being raised by a pod of dolphins. She is later discovered and taken to a research facility. She learns to speak to humans and becomes entranced with music, but then hits a point where she...more
Daniel L.
From Sea to Shining Sea

A group of dolphins is frolicking in the sea - well, one of them is a young girl, though were it not for her arms and legs and long hair, one would have never known otherwise. They swim am play peacefully until a throbbing sound from above creates a disturbance. Next, according to the newspaper account, a Coast Guard helicopter lands and snatches the girl from her dolphin friends. The Immigration and Naturalization Service wants to know of her nationality - this creature o...more
"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."

Yes, this is a young adult book. Yes, you can probably read it in an hour. Yes, the print for the beginning and end of the book is huge, like 36 or 48 point. BUT this was a really thought-provoking read. I belong to a book club, and one of the members was looking for an interesting yet quick and easy read to follow...more
Oct 14, 2008 Shaya rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Shaya by: Aubrey
My friend gave me this to read. I think the age range is about 4th or 5th grade but it was still enjoyable.

The story is about a girl who was lost at sea and grew up with dolphins. She was found and taken to be taught to live in a human community by scientists. She was taught to talk and basic human concepts. She had well-developed social ideas. Or at least the basic ones. It was very interesting how well she understood people's unspoken emotions. Much better than most people, I'd think, or at l...more
Julianna's review for The Music of Dolphins

This book started with the author. The author is Karen Hesse, also Karen helped out a little bit with the illustration on the cover of the book. The genre is very important for a book. The genre for The Music of Dolphins is Fiction and the sub-genre is Adventure/Survival. The point of view in this book is 1st person. (The girl) Mila is talking, she is the narrator. Mila lives in the ocean when she gets rescued and she starts a new life. She learns new...more
Yu Qian
Mila is a dolphin girl. Sha live in the Ocean for many years until she was found by the human. She was brought back and was teached english. She thought everything in this world is great and wonderful and loved her dolphin music. She is very smart and learn really fast. Unlike her other friend Shay. Shay is a sweet and gentle girl mila say but she don't talk much. Mila alway wanted to make her happy. So does the docter that teach and care for her Doctor Beack.
Everything in Mila's eye are sweet...more
Jun 02, 2010 Sarah rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: grades 5-7
Told in journal format, this is a story about a teenage girl who is found in the ocean off the coast of Cuba by the Coast Guard. They name her Mila (Spanish for ‘miracle’) and discover that she has been living with dolphins for most of her life. She is placed into a special hospital/school where she can learn how communicate and behave like a human.

Mila’s progress is clearly documented in her journal entries; her entries start off very short with little vocabulary, then grow longer as she learns...more
Nov 06, 2013 Maymunah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anybody
I read this years ago when my mother got this book for my sister. It was so beautiful and lovely. I read it so many times i can barely remember how many times. I loved this book so much. It's one of those books that you read when your a child, expecting it to be boring and dumb but in the end you actually love it. This book was so beautifully written, even i could tell when i was younger. It was so different and special in a way you can't really describe. You just have to read it to understand....more
This being published in 1998, the sentence structure is much more profound. That and also it's in the point of view of a child around my age who just learned English; obviously the words are dumbed down. The font, you'd expect it to be the same throughout the novel yet Karen creatively used the font to her advantage; to show progression in the child's learning. For example, in the beginning her sentences were very short, very simple and grammatically incorrect. Though when she told a story to th...more
Allie 2
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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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Out of the Dust Letters from Rifka Witness A Light in the Storm: The Civil War Diary of Amelia Martin, Fenwick Island, Delaware, 1861 (Dear America)  Safekeeping

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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.” 10 likes
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