The Music of Dolphins


Karen Hesse

Number of Pages: 


Minimum grade level: 


Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. The scientists feel they have a right to capture Mila in the name of scientific study. Do you agree?
  2. How is Mila different from the rest of us?
  3. How did Mila respond to the scientists' efforts to teach her? How did her motives for learning change during the course of the book?
  4. How is Shay similar to Mila? How is she different? Why is it that Shay cannot feel the music? How do each of the other characters interact with Mila?
  5. What are Dr. Beck's motives in studying Mila and Shay?
  6. What did you notice about the use of typeface in this book? How does the different type help tell the story?
  7. What do you think the title means?
  8. Why does Mila begin to regress in her ability to speak?
  9. What makes Mila want to return to the sea?
  10. Was the experiment a success or a failure? Did Mila survive?


Listen to music by Mozart, as Mila did. Mila's "legs and arms swim in the music." She feels "in every little place inside me" the music of Mozart. Write down your feelings as you listen the music. Listen to whale songs and talk about what you imagine in your mind to those sounds.


Goldfish crackers

Portions of this discussion guide are credited to Caroline Ward's "Having Their Say" How to Lead Great Book Discussions with Children", School Library Journal. April, 1998.

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.