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Dive into 33 best book club questions and snack ideas for the cozy animal mystery Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt.
Shelby Van Pelt’s dazzling debut Remarkably Bright Creatures is a witty and heartwarming story. It follows the friendship between an elderly widow and a giant Pacific octopus named Marcellus.
This read with Jenna today show book club pick, is a beautiful exploration of is a captivating exploration of an improbable friendship, familial bonds, community, and unwavering optimism amidst adversity.
Remarkably Bright Creatures Synopsis
After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.
Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors–until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.
Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.
Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.
33 Remarkably Bright Creatures Book Club Questions
How would you describe Tova’s character at the beginning of the novel, and how does she change or evolve throughout the story?
Marcellus, the octopus, is a unique and central character. What aspects of Marcellus’s personality did you find most relatable?
In what ways does the book explore the concept of resilience? How do Tova and Marcellus demonstrate resilience in their lives?
Discuss the significance of the setting, the Sowell Bay Aquarium, in the story. How does it contribute to the overall atmosphere and themes of Remarkably Bright Creatures ?
What qualities and experiences make Tova and Marcellus’s friendship so remarkable and special?
Remarkably Bright Creatures delves into the mystery of Erik’s disappearance. How did you react when the mystery finally revealed?
Marcellus is almost like a detective. How did you feel about the portrayal of Marcellus as a detective figure?
The title, “Remarkably Bright Creatures,” refers not only to Marcellus but also to the human characters. How do you interpret this title ?
Remarkably Bright Creatures explores the idea that finding unexpected connection with animals. Discuss this aspect of the book from book club member’s experience.
What do you think of Marcellus’ observations about humans?
Marcellus is initially described as “curmudgeonly.” Do you think it attitude towards human change once he interacts with Tova. ?
Hope is another central theme in Remarkably Bright Creatures. How do the characters, especially Tova and Marcellus, maintain hope in the face of adversity?
The novel contains elements of both mystery and the natural world. How do these elements complement each other?
Are there any secondary characters whose stories or actions stood out to you?
Consider the significance of the ocean and water imagery throughout the book. How does water symbolize different aspects of the characters’ lives and the themes of the story?
Discuss the quote “Why can humans not use their millions of words to simply tell one another what they desire?”
If you could step into the story and have a conversation with one of the characters, who would it be, and what would you ask them?
How does the novel handle the passage of time, with Tova dealing with both the loss of her husband and the mystery of her son’s disappearance over the course of several decades?
Reflect on the moments of humor in Remarkably Bright Creatures especially those involving Marcellus’s unique perspective.
Tova always want to be kind and helpful. At the same time she doesn’t want to a burden for anybody else. Discuss this in context of the book.
Do you think Tova keeps working to deal with sadness?
What do you think of Cameron and his dynamics with Tova and Marcellus?
What do you think the author’s message or takeaway is from Remarkably Bright Creatures and how does it resonate with you personally?
Discuss the quote ‘conscience does make cowards of us all.”
How do you feel about authors incorporating animals as one of the main characters in the story? Do you think it makes the book more popular?
Discuss other novels and delve into novels where animals take center stage as characters!
What do you think of the ending of Remarkably Bright Creatures?
Octopuses are often described as brainy creatures. Discuss it with a few situation from the book.
Talk about how Tova, Cameron and Marcellus became friends. Do you think grief and loss bring humans and animals closer together ?
How do you think of themes of community and family described in the book?
How do you imagine Tova and Cameron’s life after they realised their connection? Suggest a few narrative from their daily life.
Discuss the prevalent themes of loss, mourning, solitude, and the passage of time within the novel.
If Marcellus were an old man and Tova were an octopus, how do you think the story would have changed?
Remarkably Bright Creatures Book Club Snack Ideas
- Shrimp cocktail: Serve chilled shrimp with cocktail sauce for a classic seafood option.
- Smoked salmon bites
- Seaweed Snacks
- Aquarium Jello Cups: Make blue jello cups with gummy fish.
- Fish and Chips: Serve mini fish and chips with tartar sauce as a savory snack option.
- Ocean Blue Mocktail
- Beach-Themed Snack Mix
More Book Club Ideas and Activities For Remarkably Bright Creatures
- Character Exploration: Assign each member a character from the book and ask them to prepare a short character analysis. They can share insights into the character’s motivations, personality, and development throughout the story.
- Octopus Art Project: Embrace the theme of the giant Pacific octopus by having a craft session where members create their own octopus-themed artwork. Provide art supplies like watercolors, colored pencils, or clay, and encourage creativity.
- Ocean Trivia: Organize a trivia game with questions related to marine life, the Pacific Northwest, or the book itself. Award small prizes for correct answers to add a competitive element.
- Thematic Playlist: Create a playlist of songs that you feel capture the themes and emotions of the book. Share the playlist with the group and discuss why each song was chosen.
- Location Exploration: If possible, plan a field trip to a local aquarium or marine center. This can provide a hands-on experience related to the book’s setting and themes.
Frequently Asked Questions about Remarkably Bright Creatures
- Is Remarkably Bright Creatures worth reading?
Whether “Remarkably Bright Creatures” is worth reading depends on your personal preferences and interests in literature. If you enjoy stories that explore themes of friendship, mystery, and personal history, it may be worth giving it a read.
- What is the book Remarkably Bright Creatures about?
Remarkably Bright Creatures” is a novel that revolves around the life of Tova Sullivan, who works the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. After the death of her husband and the unexplained disappearance of her son, Erik, over thirty years ago, she finds solace in her work. The novel follows her unlikely friendship with Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus residing at the aquarium. Marcellus, despite his initial aloofness, becomes instrumental in helping Tova uncover the truth about her son’s disappearance.
- What to read if you liked Remarkably Bright Creatures?
If you loved Remarkably Bright Creature, read Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, The Bees by Laline Paull, A Dog’s Purpose by W Bruce Cameron and Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.
- Who does Marcellus voice in Remarkably Bright Creatures?
Michael Urie is the voice of Marcellus in Remarkably Bright Creatures?
I hope you found the best and most thoughtful discussion questions for your book club on Remarkably Bright Creatures.
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