In her third gripping adventure, Nim unearths an amazing opalised fossil, but this discovery puts her island in terrible danger.
Wendy Orr was born in Canada and spent her childhood across Canada, France and the USA. Wherever she lived, there were always lots of stories, books and pets.
Once, when she was on a ferry going to visit her grandparents, Wendy saw a tiny island and wished that she could live there. Instead, she wrote a story about a girl who runs away from an orphanage to live on a small island. Many years later, when she was a grown-up writer, Wendy remembered the feeling of writing that story, and started writing Nim's Island.
One day a film producer in Hollywood took Wendy's book Nim's Island out of the library to read to her son. The next day she asked if she could make it into a movie. Wendy said yes! They became good friends, and Wendy had the fun of helping work on the screenplay.
Wendy began writing for children after a career as an occupational therapist. She is the author of many award-winning books including Nim at Sea, Raven's Mountain and Peeling the Onion.
Nim lives with her scientist father Jack and adventure writer Alex Rover on a remote tropical island kept almost secret from the rest of the world in order to protect its pristine beauty and wildlife. Her constant companions are a marine iguana she calls Fred and a sea lion called Selkie. It’s an idyllic lifestyle which Nim wouldn’t swap for the world. It’s a lifestyle many would like to have and because she has email and the Internet, it does not get lonely. In this episode, the third in the series, Jack invites some scientists to the island to try to work out how algae can be converted into a planet-friendly fuel source but all is not well from the beginning. While Nim does not shun the outside world, she prefers the peace and solitude of her island home knowing that the fewer people who know about it, the more likely its heritage will be preserved. Even though her friend Edmund returns, one of the couples has two children who are not used to the isolation of such an environment and who do not understand its uniqueness so there is friction from the start. Two of the scientists don’t seem to be what they purport to be so, when Nim discovers an opalised fossil, all is not smooth sailing. Everyone is in grave danger and Nim has to make some tough choices to try to keep everyone safe and protect her home.
We first met Nim when Nim’s Island was published in 1999 and were reacquainted with her in 2007 in Nim at Sea, the stories being made into a movie starring Jodie Foster in 2008. Now, 15 years later, Nim is back to delight us again, testament to the quality of the writing and the power of the story that Wendy Orr sets before us. The adventurous Nim is a likeable character and many would like to swap places with her. The story moves along quickly and while the message about the need to value and protect the environment drives the series and is strong, it does not overpower the plot or the action.
While this is a stand-alone book which doesn’t take the reader too long to place the essential elements together, this is an ideal opportunity to introduce a new generation of readers to the series as a whole. Despite the timespan between episodes, it does not date and would be a refreshing and absorbing read for the child looking for something a little bit different. Nim’s Island would be a great class read-aloud to support a sustainability theme and if students know there are others in the series, there will be a queue. An internet search for teaching notes will turn up several options.
Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian Cooma NSW