Nim at Sea
Illustrated by Kerry Millard
Allen & Unwin, 2007, Knopf US 2008
RETURN TO NIM'S ISLAND
the film inspired by Nim at Sea will be in cinemas in Australia on April 4, starring Bindi Irwin
“In a palm tree, on an island, in the middle of the wide blue sea, is a girl.”
Orr opens both Nim’s Island (1999) and this equally winning sequel
(published to coincide with the release of the prequel’s film version)
with the same lines—but this time takes her plucky protagonist to a very
different island, halfway around the world. Chasing poachers who have
snatched her beloved sea lion Selkie, Nim stows away aboard a cruise ship
where she finds both a whole menagerie of captives and herself among other
children for the first time. Meanwhile, deciding (wrongly) that she’s intruding,
Alex (aka Alex Rover, renowned but seriously shy author of bestselling adventure novels) heads back to her native New York without a word to Nim’s dad Jack, who is so frantic at everyone’s sudden disappearance that he sets out aboard a raft for the nearest, but still distant, town. Casting Nim, Jack and Alex into adventures that are exciting but never more than briefly scary, the author expertly shepherds the impulsive trio all the way to the Big Apple—lacing the separate voyages with just-missed meetings and unreceived e-mail messages, and building up to a comically tumultuous climax, rescue and loving reunion. Millard’s occasional sketches add pitch-perfect notes of light suspense and humor. (Fiction. 10-12)
from starred review in the March 1, 2008 issue of Kirkus Reviews
Buy it now:
USA (hardcover or ebook)
Canada (hardcover or ebook)
Background to writing Nim at Sea
I’d always wanted to write a sequel to Nim’s Island, because I loved being in her world so much that I wanted to visit it again, and I also wanted to know what happened next. But it wasn’t till I started working with Paula Mazur and Joe Kwong on the first draft of the screenplay, that I suddenly saw the story. The hours we spent discussing Alex and her phobias, and how she overcame them to cross the world for Nim, suddenly made it blindingly obvious that Nim now had to visit Alex’s world.
Once I’d gone back to living in their world and they’d gone back to being real people for me, I also saw there were going to be problems as they worked out these new relationships. Some of the children who wrote to me asking for a sequel discussed how they thought Nim would feel once Alex was actually living there. I knew I had to explore that.
I also received an email from a girl named Erin, worrying about Nim’s loneliness and wishing she could befriend her. That reminded me that in the original Spring Island, the story I wrote when I was nine, my little orphan girl was eventually joined by a boy who’d run away from his orphanage. I realized it was time for Nim to meet some human friends– and I named the girl Erin. (Unfortunately I’ve lost the email – so Erin, if you read this, please let me know!)
Nim at Sea is dedicated to Paula because I really don’t think the book would have happened without her belief in Nim. In another twist, the artist, Kerry Millard’s own Nim at Sea dedication is to me – which of course I didn’t know till I saw it in the finished book – a strange, and very moving moment. In many ways, friendship is not only a theme of this book, it was one of the driving forces behind it.