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Nim’s Island

October 12, 2021
nim's island book cover
Published: 1999
Page Count: 125
Nim loves her island home and the animals she shares it with even while her scientist father is away doing research, but trouble is on the way and a new e-mail friend could be the only one who can help.

This is a delightful and short read. Full of humor and whimsy, it’s a story clearly aimed at younger children. It explores the wonderful, enchanted life of a girl named Nim and her experiences on a remote island, largely on her own. Her mother has passed away and her father is off on a scientific trip for most of the book. But though Nim has no other people to keep her company, she’s quite independent and resourceful and she has three animal companions to talk to and look after. Oddly enough, they seem to look after her as well, often acting in very human-like ways. And in the most important relationship in the book, Nim develops a friend via e-mail shortly after the story begins, the author of the famous adventure novels featuring Alex Rover.

Fun in the sun

The plot is light and the prose simple and direct. But it’s perfectly suited to younger readers and the overall feel of the book is one of hope and possibility, even when things go wrong or seem dark, which is something all of us could use a good deal more of.

The book travels through its paces briskly, with very little extended introspection. Nim certainly wrestles with how to handle the difficulties that come her way, but she usually forms her ideas quickly and dives in to execute her plan with no second-guessing or doubt. I believe ‘sincere’ would accurately describe her character.

And now our story is done

The one dark cloud in an otherwise sunny sky is that the ending is rather abrupt. It’s not a horrible ending, but it does feel like the author left some loose ends on the table. It’s fairly obvious what would happen next, but rather than describe it, she drops the tale and rides off into the sunset, leaving it to readers to imagine what happens on their own.

But this is an enjoyable novel. Short, but sweet. Any child under ten will find much to enjoy. And for older readers, this is a pleasant romp, told from a child’s perspective. No matter how advanced in age or sophisticated our tastes, we would all do well to see life through a child’s eyes from time to time, and Nim’s Island helps us to do just that.

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