One of the best ways to discover old(ish) books is for them to be made into a movie. Nim’s Island was one such book.
The plot is really quite simple: Nim and her father live on an undiscovered tropical island. They moved there after the disappearance of Nim’s mother (she was investigating the insides of a live whale’s stomach and a huge Troppo Tours boat came by, scaring the whale, which dove into the ocean, taking Nim’s mother with it). They are perfectly happy, until one day when Nim’s father takes off on a boat to research plankton. Nim is left alone on the island, supposedly for three days and three nights. She reads an adventure book by Alex Rover, and through some weird coincidences, she begins an e-mail correspondence with the author. One thing after another happens to Nim’s dad, who is left stranded on a boat in the ocean, and it’s up to Nim (and, eventually, Alex) to survive on her own, figure out a way to keep the Troppo Tours boat from discovering the island, and get her dad back.
Okay, maybe that wasn’t so simple.
The book, however, is a delightful little read. Nim haa a resourcefulness and level-headedness that belies her years, but without making her precocious. She is all about figuring out how to get things done on her own, which is always refreshing in a kids’ novel. The adults are enjoyable as well, especially the author, Alex Rover. The real conflict in her life is that she’s stuck in the apartment, writing adventure novels, and is afraid to go outside. It’s only her increasing concern for Nim that propels her out, and even then, she’s more of a comic side character than an adult who actually accomplishes anything. The animals add to the charm of the book as well. None of them talks, yet each of them has personalities. There’s Fred, the iguana; Selkie, the sea lion with mothering instincts; and Chica, the sea turtle who saves the day. It’s all very amusing and quite fun.
The movie is similarly cute, even if the screenwriters took liberties with the book. However, in this case, I’d have to say stick with the book, at least before you see the movie. It’s one of those rare sweet gems.