Nim’s Island

by Wendy Orr (1999)

An Intro and Sweet Spot selection.

A rich, modern, and now classic fable.

Nim’s Island takes us to the idyllic spot in the Pacific where a young girl, Nim, lives with her scientist father. They are self-sufficient in their paradise, complete with solar powered computer batteries and a satellite dish.  So, right away we see that this isn’t a standard stranded-on-a-desert-island story.

We spend all our time with the winsome Nim and the denizens of her island.  Her friends are an iguana, a sea lion, a sea turtle, and a frigate bird, and Nim’s relationship with them is charming and winning. Everyone will want to live vicariously on Nim’s Island.

But this is not the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Nim is not so much stranded as at home on her island.  She has a routine, chores, friends and fun.  But, when her father fails to call home from his science trip, Nim’s situation becomes more dire.  She strikes up an e-mail correspondence with the author of an adventure story that occupies and enriches her days. The author – the redoubtable Alex Rover – turns out to be a she and is just as lonely as Nim, though neither one knows it.

Orr entwines their stories in a tightly woven rescue chase. But it is their touching regard for each other, and the way each opens up paths to emotional self-discovery in the other, that charms readers even more than the pace of the chase.

This is also not Robinson CrusoeNim’s Island is a stately 125 pages and this allows readers and families to dabble in the details and turn each page hungry for more.  Instead, consider it a modern, brisk Swiss Family Robinson.

Nim’s (and Orr’s) delight in the natural world presents a wealth of opportunities for exploring and expanding the world of your One School, One Book title.