Name of Book: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
By: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Copyright Date: June 7, 2011
Number of Pages: 352
Format: YA Hardback
Reason for Reading: Cover Love
If ever there was a book written for a Quirky Girl to review, this is it. It has all the quirky hallmarks: a main character who feels like he doesn’t fit in anywhere; a mysterious grandfather who swears monsters have chased him his entire life; references to the classic poetry of Ralph Waldo Emerson; and a secret island near Wales where an extraordinarily long-lived, pipe-smoking Bird is purported to keep quite peculiar children happy and safe from the monsters. It was even published by Quirk Books. It doesn’t get any quirkier than that.
Jacob’s grandfather knows about the island because he was sent there as a boy. In what Jacob refers to as before he is given by his skeptical parents to understand that his grandfather, a German Jew, was sent to Miss Peregrine’s home to escape the Nazis; that the stories he told Jacob about the monsters of his youth were merely men carrying out the orders of Hitler; that those metaphorical monsters killed his entire family by the time he left Mrs. Peregrine’s and immigrated to the US. It is Jacob’s after where he is given to understand that perhaps his grandfather’s stories were more literal than metaphorical; perhaps the monsters he so vividly described-and FYI, they’re disturbing-truly exist. The only proof his grandfather offered before were old photographs of the peculiar children, clearly doctored up to demonstrate their most peculiar abilities, but one moment in Jacob’s after was all the proof he needed to trust his grandfather’s word.
With the approval of his parental-mandated therapist (perhaps this will help young Jacob come to grips), Jacob and his father travel to the small island where Miss Peregrine and her peculiar charges once lived. What Jacob discovers will change his life forever.
Author Ransom Riggs combines old photographs with text to create a unique method of truly engrossing story-telling. From his website:
I have an unusal hobby: I collect snapshots of people I don’t know. I started collecting a few years ago — at swap meets, antique shops and the like — but the thing that got me started wasn’t the photos themselves so much as the scribbles I’d sometimes find on the backs.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is liberally peppered with these old and odd photographs, contributing to an alternately amusing and chilling atmosphere. Seriously, some of the photographs were hilarious, but there a few which sent shivers down my spine, despite the oppressive Texas heat. There are twists and turns a-plenty, some predictable and some extra twisty. Best of all, the characters are well-drawn and the interaction between Jacob and the other characters is authentic and well played.
BOTTOM LINE: This is an unusual and intriguing read from a possibly peculiar author (yeah, I went there).