A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Author Lizzie K. Foley has a master's degree in education from Harvard, so it comes as no surprise that arcane bits of information pop up frequently. For instance, if kids don't know about the Loch Ness Monster before they read Remarkable, they'll hear about Nessie here. The troublemaking Grimlet twins devise a machine for controlling the weather, which may inspire the science-minded.
There are valuable lessons about being true to yourself, not letting your whole life be defined by one particular talent, and the dire consequences of too much of a good thing. Surrounded by people who are outstanding in their chosen field and also ignore her completely except when they're imposing on her for something, Jane is quite discouraged by it all. But being just who she is saves the day; along the way, the lingering suspicion creeps in that overachievement may be overrated, and the remarkable ones have a few lessons to learn themselves.
Positive Role Models
In addition to the appealing Jane, there are a number of additional positive role models. While they're necessarily pretty cartoonish -- several of them are pirates, for example -- they also represent interesting issues: when to pursue your chosen career despite your family's opposition, when to talk about what you know and when to keep quiet, etc.
Violence & Scariness
Much reference to pirate violence in the past, but no actual gore. The kids are forced to walk the plank, but it's only into a wading pool. One of the characters fears that he's going to be devoured by the giant serpent following a shipwreck. The Grimlet twins' weather machine wreaks considerable structural damage to the town. They also succeed in devising a bomb that turns everything and everyone in the Gifted school blue.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Jane's brother is in the obnoxious throes of unrequited love, which is causing the rest of the world to discover that he can't sing.
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A good deal of pirate speak, like "lubberneck" and "renegado," as well as the ever-popular "Arrgh!"
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Products & Purchases
There's an ongoing thread about the rivalry between the super-special organic preserves handmade in Remarkable and the mass-produced jam made in the next town that everyone secretly likes better.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, not unlike its triumphantly ordinary heroine, Remarkable has to slog through a lot of gratuitous overachievement before reaching its satisfying conclusion. The story of an average 10-year-old girl in a town where everyone else is extraordinary is charming but has chaotic plot elements -- including warring jam factories, a plethora of pirates (pretend and otherwise), a missing musician, and a lake-dwelling monster. Expect lots of zany antics but no real violence except for a bomb that turns people blue and many references to pirate violence in the past.
Is It Any Good?
REMARKABLE's charms ultimately overcome its weaknesses, chief among which is an overindulgence in verbal cleverness to the point of clutter. Captain Rojo Herring's name isn't the only self-conscious interference with the straightforward unfolding of events, and all this distraction may prove too annoying for some readers. But like Jane and her grandpa, those who persevere will enjoy the rewards.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.