Home Arts Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children offers weird kids and boring plots

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children offers weird kids and boring plots

by The Concordian August 30, 2011
One might automatically assume picture books are for easily distracted children or for ones who don’t like to read, but every once in a while there comes a picture book that stands out from the pack.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by American author Ransom Riggs is the ultimate book for all your creepy photography enthusiast friends. Unfortunately, the images are the only intriguing part of the book.
With its teenage protagonist, this novel is definitely geared towards the young teen crowd. Jacob is your average high school kid living in Florida, working in one of the many pharmacies owned by his uncle. Close family ties play an important role from the start as readers are immediately introduced to the relationship between Jacob and his paternal grandfather, Grandpa Portman.
Jacob describes the splendour that filled the days of his childhood spent with Grandpa Portman, who told the young boy stories made all the more fascinating by their eeriness and mystery.
Grandpa Portman was but a young boy during World War II, and recounts to Jacob that he was sent to an island in order to escape the “monsters.” Jacob, being the cynical teenager that he is, dismisses these so-called monsters as Nazis or perhaps figments of his grandfather’s fading memories.
However, these monsters become all too real for young Jacob after he discovers Grandpa Portman clinging to life in a field behind his home. While trying to rescue him before it is too late, Jacob spots something lurking in the trees above his grandfather’s motionless body. He immediately recognizes the bizarre creature as one of the aforementioned monsters from Grandpa Portman’s stories. Needless to say, in this moment, Jacob’s life changes and the innocence of his early teen years comes to an abrupt end.
Before Grandpa Portman takes his final breath, he strings together key words for Jacob to remember. Then on his 16th birthday, Jacob is given a copy of The Selected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Through a series of clues left behind, the final words of his grandfather are made clear.
Similar to a scrapbook, photos of Miss Peregrine’s children on an island that Grandpa Portman spoke of in his stories are added between chapters and are impossible to ignore. Contortionist girls and floating babies as well as children dressed in outfits Lady Gaga would never dream of wearing are wonderful additions. There is also a shot of twin girls with their backs to the camera, which looks like something out of an M. Night Shyamalan movie. But unlike his films, the pictures in this book are actually good.
Despite the mostly predictable plot, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is extremely well-written. Riggs’s use of a sophisticated, yet non-intimidating language keeps the novel at a level somewhere between Twilight and Harry Potter; light-hearted yet with some substance.
The spirit of the moment, found not only in each chapter but in each scene, is perfectly captured within the words on the page. Riggs manages to create drama and contrast between Jacob’s psychological state before and after his grandfather’s death, which keeps the reader on track. Oh, and the pictures are definitely worth checking out.

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