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. 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, each with their own personalities. Nim’s relationship with them is charming and winning. Everyone will want to live vicariously on Nim’s Island.

This story is not the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Nim is not stranded, but is instead 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 just as lonely as Nim, though neither one knows it.

Orr entwines Nim’s and Alex’s 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.

Nim’s (and Orr’s) delight in the natural world presents a wealth of opportunity for fun and educational activities to go along with your schoolwide reading program. Everything from navigation to food to making up games – something for everyone.

This book is also not Robinson CrusoeNim’s Island is a brisk 125 pages with illustrations sprinkled throughout. It allows readers and families to dabble in the details and turn each page hungry for more, a perfect book for families just beginning to enjoy reading aloud together.

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