Nim's Island

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Nim's Island Book Poster Image
Lighthearted, satisfying survival story.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about resourcefulness.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that that there is little to be concerned about here, other than the premise of the story, which is that a father leaves his young daughter alone on a deserted island for several days.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6 and 8-year-old Written bypeony April 9, 2008

Great read for young independent readers

A fun, exciting read: great choice for a young
independent reader.

If a kid is young enough that the story is being read to them, and sensitive, be aware that... Continue reading
Parent of a 3 and 7-year-old Written bySusan L. February 10, 2015
The self-reliant, brave and kind Nim was a pleasure to follow through this adventure.
Kid, 9 years old October 2, 2020

Do you like coconuts? Because Fred does!!!

This book is all about Nim who lives with her dad alone on an island. Her best friend is named Fred. Fred is an iguana who LOVES coconuts. Selkie is a sea lion... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 4, 2011

Great Beginer Novel!

I read this book when I was 9 and loved it.
It's great for ages 8 or 9.

What's the story?

Since the presumed death of her mother many years ago, Nim and her scientist father live alone on an island in the middle of the ocean, connected to the world only by satellite phone and email. But when her father goes off on his sailboat to research plankton and doesn't return on schedule, Nim, alone on the island, turns to her favorite author for help.

Is it any good?

This understated, easy-to-read tale, written with a light and loving touch, is a near-perfect middle-grade novel. Take a spunky heroine competently surviving on her own on a deserted island (the ultimate kid fantasy). Add in animal friends who seem to understand, the vaguest of villains hovering in the background and easily overcome, a smattering of scientific information effortlessly absorbed, and a very satisfying conclusion. Then write it in breezy style, making the various pieces of the story fit together in a nicely coincidental, jigsaw-puzzle way. All together it makes for one delightful story.

As with other island survival tales, kids will want to be Nim, and her story will stimulate readers' fantasy lives. Unlike most of those other stories, it adds in touches of fantasy and humor to keep the gritty and sometimes scary reality of survival at a distance. In that way it's more similar to the non-island survival story, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Most of the fantasy comes from the animals which, while still real animals, are usually intelligent and helpful, and are anthropomorphized just enough to turn them into characters. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what's real and what's not in the story. Could animals behave this way? Could people live this way? Could they still have phone and email on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean? Could a child survive alone? Would you have done anything different in Nim's situation?

Book details

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