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, a feral child raised by a pod of dolphins around the Florida Keys and Caribbean. "Mila" is an abbreviated form of the Spanish word milagro, meaning "miracle".

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

Although the novel is fiction, it is based on real life experiences of people who have worked with feral children.


Mila: The protagonist of the story, a girl raised by dolphins. She is captured on a cay and taken to a scientific research facility, where she is taught to be a human. She is looked after by Sandy and Doctor Beck who help her in her struggle to learn English and about human life. At one point, Mila learns that her real name could be Olivia, and that her father, who is Cuban, is alive.

Doctor Beck: The scientist in charge of taking care of Mila. Doctor Beck raises Mila and teaches her how to be a human. Doctor Beck is Justin's mother.

Shay: A friend of Mila, a little girl. Shay was said to be kept in solitary confinement in Idaho where she was found at the Salmon River Mountains. Later, she is taken from the research facility to a foster home.

Justin: Doctor Beck's son. At first he is resentful and jealous of Mila and the attention Dr. Beck gives her. Later he tells Mila that Dr. Beck's interest in Mila is more scientific than familial. However, 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, who finds Sandy to be the most sympathetic and understanding person in the story.

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 English language.

Dolphins: The ones that raise Mila. Her dolphin mother has a spotted tail or fluke, and wise eyes; she had lost her baby calf shortly before finding Mila.

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