A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
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?