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The Music of Dolphins
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The Music of Dolphins

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  4,201 ratings  ·  420 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 217 books — 314 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Josiah
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
Elizabeth
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
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.
Charlie
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!!!
Kyle
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
Jessica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jane
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
Lucy
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
Dandylion
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
Jenelle
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
Aaron Wallace
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.
Kevin
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
Julie Decker
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
Tyler Tippets
Good book, very sad!
Nermin
I truly loved this book, I think it is one of the best American books ever written.
No matter how age does it target, it touches whoever reads it.
It is not just about the deep, strong, emotional voice of Mila, and not just that the story itself is powerful and unique, it is the mixture of all the elements in the story that make it such a great book.

Hesse's done an amazing job speaking through Mila, and even though one might not relate to Mila, since she has really extraordinary background being
...more
Isabelle703
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!
Nim
Simplicity. If you looked inside, you'd think by the big writing that it was just another children's reading book. But it's much more than that.
It's short enough to read slowly and carefully. The story isn't hidden with long descriptions. The simple words let you imagine for yourself - what it's like to have dolphins as your family, the ocean as your home. What it's like to see other humans as aliens, trapping you in another world that you never knew existed. What it's like to make friends for
...more
Rachel
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
Manda
My daughter recommended that I read this one. The story (from the author of the Newbery-winning Out of the Dust) is about Mina, who from the age of 4 was "raised" by dolphins. Her struggles to learn about the human world and fit in there form the bulk of the book. An interesting premise, and it reminded me of one of my favorite books -- The One and Only Ivan -- only in reverse. Ivan is learning what it means to be an ape after being raised by humans; Mina is trying to become more human after bei ...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
Jackie
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
Melissa
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
Chinook
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
Ashley
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
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
Marleah
"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
Shaya
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
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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.

For more information, please see http://us.macmillan.com/author/karenh...
More about Karen Hesse...
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.” 19 likes
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