We recently had some family friends over for dinner. During the meal, as I’m inclined to do, I asked 8-year-old M what was the last really good book she’d read.

Island of the Blue Dolphins,” she replied. Now, that had been one of my very favorites when I was a little older than her, but that was a long time ago, and I couldn’t remember whether it might still be a little too intense for my own 7-year-old S.

“So, were there any especially scary parts?” I asked.

“Not really,” she replied.

Come to think of it, basic chunks of the book’s plot were missing from my memory, so I asked M to remind me how the girl found herself alone on the island in the first place.

She obliged, telling how the girl had missed the boat when the other islanders left — “and then her younger brother was killed by wild dogs…”

All adult eyes turned from M to her right, where her own little brother sat obliviously eating his salad.