A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some references to religious texts and poetry relating to miracles. Walt Whitman is quoted.
Miracles happen every day. Sometimes the brightest miracles are in the darkest moments. There are many ways to praise and remember the dead. No one is truly gone. Love never ends.
Positive Role Models
The adults in this story are either blindsided by grief or are absent. The "witch" in the DoorWay House is kind and benevolent, but it's not clear whether she's a human or a ghost. Officer Soto is understanding when two characters break the law.
Violence & Scariness
Description of an infant's death and her tiny, white coffin could be intense for some readers. Death as a subject takes a center stage in the story. Wunder throws a book at his friend Davy.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jess Redman's The Miraculous deals with the death of an infant and her brother's consequent loss of faith in miracles. There are religious elements to the book: questions of whether a character has faith in God or not ("And you need to get to know the Lord," a character says to a child). Christian ceremonies and churches are described, topics such as miracles and faith are discussed at length. A character studies the occult. A mother's depression causes her to lock herself in a room. Kids break into a municipal building and get caught by police. An insensitive friend says of the deceased sister: "She was alive for like, two days, what's the big deal?"
Is It Any Good?
Pursuit of miracles and exploration of death punctuate a story that feels forced. The Miraculous tries to connect with the mysterious and the magical by conjuring a mystical house with spinning wooden walls and a witch who waves at people as they are leaving the cemetery. But it feels like he main character, Wunder, is being written about, as if he were part of a fairy tale. His struggles and challenges are catalogued rather than lovingly revealed. Because Wunder is such a key player in the book, this deficiency affects the entire story, making it feel wooden and plodding. The descriptions of religion, church, faith and yes, miracles, aren't subtle either, which is disappointing.
Thank goodness for Wunder's new friend Faye, whose weirdness and passion for the occult add zest to an otherwise sad story. She serves to make the plot move forward and to ask hard questions, such as, why the dead sister's crib is still in Wunder's room --"That's awful!" she cries. (Whether her portrayal as being screechy and bossy is tied to her Korean-American identity is up to readers, but the stereotype raises questions.) Dealing with death as it relates to children, no matter how shrouded in mystery and adventure, requires tact and skill. Unfortunately, The Miraculous falls a little short of its title.
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.