The Music of Dolphins

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The Music of Dolphins
The Music of Dolphins.jpg
First edition cover
Author Karen Hesse
Cover artist Greg Harlin
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children novel
Publisher Scholastic Press
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 181
ISBN 0-590-89797-7

The Music of Dolphins, by Karen Hesse, is a children's book that follows the story of Mila (translated as an abbreviated form of the Spanish word for "miracle"), a feral child raised by a pod of dolphins around the Florida Keys and Caribbean.

The novel uses a narrative structure that parallels Mila's increasing comprehension of English. At the novel's opening, when Mila is with the dolphins and cannot speak English, the story is told from a neutral third person (Mila's POV) perspective. The text moves to simple English as the protagonist learns human language, becomes more complex as her emotions increase, reverts to simple English when she yearns for the dolphins again, and finally goes back to the third person perspective.

Though the novel is fiction, it is based on real-life experiences of those who have worked with feral children.


Mila: The protagonist of the story, a girl raised by dolphins. While on a cay, she is captured and taken to a research facility, where she is taught to be a human. "Mila" is an abbreviated form of the Spanish word milagro, meaning "miracle". She was kept by Sandy and Doctor Beck who helped her in her struggle of learning. At one point, Mila learns that her real name could be Olivia, and that her possible father, who is Cuban, is alive.

Doctor Beck: The Doctor in charge of taking care of Mila. She raised her and she taught her how to be a human. Also, Justin's mother.

Shay: A friend of Mila, a little girl. Shay was said to be kept in solitary confinement in Idaho, and possibly, she was there longer before Mila showed up. She was found by the Salmon River Mountains. Later, she is taken to another foster home.

Justin: Doctor Beck's son. He initially appears resentful of Mila and the attention that Dr. Beck gives her, though he later tells Mila that Dr. Beck's interest in Mila is more scientific than familial. The two fall in love in the climax of the story.

Sandy: A friend of Dr. Beck's. She sometimes acts as a caregiver of Mila. She, to Mila, is the most understanding person.

Mr. Aradondo: A janitor at the facility where Mila is kept. He appears to be afraid of Mila, though he openly expresses concern for her well-being when she develops a high fever. He reminds Mila of her grandfather.

Doctor Troy and Doctor Peach: Colleagues of Doctor Beck, who also help with Mila and Shay learn about music and the human language.

Dolphins: The ones that raise Mila. Mila's dolphin mother is described as having spotted flukes and wise eyes, and had lost her calf shortly before encountering Mila.

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