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Great premise overcomes an excess of clever embellishments.

What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

Positive messages

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.


A good deal of pirate speak, like "lubberneck" and "renegado," as well as the ever-popular "Arrgh!"

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.

What's the story?

Plain Jane Doe is just about the only person in the town of Remarkable (her grandfather being the other) who doesn't have a ridiculously ornate name and a spectacular talent to match. She's just an ordinary 10-year-old girl who would like a dog, but her parents are much too busy pursuing their notable achievements to do anything about it -- so day after day, Jane goes to the town's public school, where she's the only student. At least till the Grimlet twins get expelled from the Gifted school, where all the other kids in town go, for their latest misdeed, and things get more interesting ... or at least different.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how frustrating it is when your parents don't listen to you. How do Jane's parents respond when she asks for a dog? Why doesn't that work?

  • Why is Jane's grandfather worried about Lucky and the bell tower?

  • How do the characters learn that just because they're really good at something, that might not be as important as they thought?

Book details

Author:Lizzie K. Foley
Topics:Great girl role models, Misfits and underdogs, Puppets
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dial Books
Publication date:April 12, 2012
Number of pages:338
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12

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Parent Written byAEMom7 December 1, 2013

A Fun Read with Positive Messages

This is fun read for kids while highlighting some important messages such as the value of being true to yourself and what you want to be. My daughter (age 7) has now read it several times and loved the little adventures and characters throughout the story. I agree with the feedback that it can be overly verbose but as far as children's books go, I would definitely recommend this one for kids 7 and up.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written bymagboss211 February 22, 2016


I personally think its fabulous how she can learn to not worry about having to be remarkable like everyone else. This shows a great example for kids, so they can learn to be themselves!!!
What other families should know
Great messages


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