Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - by Ransom Riggs

"a perfect mix of romance and suspense, Zevin makes it personal"

     When he was young, Jacob revered his grandfather, whose adventures with monsters in other countries enthralled him, especially as they were much more exciting than his own ordinary life in Florida. As he grew, however, Jacob sided with the rest of his family, calling his grandfather a paranoid, crazy old man and resenting him for telling lies. But when a gruesome tragedy devastates the family, Jacob takes a chance on his grandfather’s unbelievable stories to search for the truth and journeys to an island off the coast of Wales. Only what remains of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, where his grandfather grew up, can help Jacob uncover his grandfather’s story and help him begin his own.

I picked up the book because one of my favorite authors, John Green (Looking for Alaska), recommended it, and I wasn’t disappointed. Ransom Riggs interweaves antique pictures of beyond peculiar occurrences and people with the story, providing original visuals for the reader in a way that enhances the reading experience. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a fun, fast, and refreshing read, especially given the current overflow of dystopian novels (though I do love a good dystopian novel). It’s strange and different but still holds on to a bit of sweetness. It’s the perfect blend.

    - Haley

"appeals to those who like adventure, the paranormal, and romance"

"When I was fifteen, a terrible thing happened, and there was only Before and After". Jacob Portman is your average teenager - he fights with his parents, hates his job at the Smart Aid, and struggles to fit in at school. But after the tragic death of his grandfather, Jacob travels to a mysterious island searching for answers, and his whole world is turned upside down. Author Ransom Riggs has an engaging writing style and really captures the mindset of a sixteen year old boy in this #1 New York Times Bestseller, Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children. The dialogue is authentic and is exactly how I imagine a slightly socially awkward boy would talk in the real world.

I was hesitant to read this book because of the somewhat disturbing cover art and pictures. However, once you start reading, the pictures are incorporated smoothly into the story line and enhance the reader's experience. Ransom Riggs used actual vintage photographs he had collected over the years and built the story around them. The fact that he included the vintage pictures in the book adds a sense of realism to this paranormal thriller.

Riggs builds suspense throughout the book and captures the reader's interest immediately. This is one of those books that you can sit down and read in one go, even though it's slightly longer, about three hundred-fifty pages. Once Jacob travels to the island, he finds the crumbling remains of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, the childhood home of his grandfather. "What stood before me now was no refuge from monsters, but a monster itself, staring down from its perch on the hill with vacant hunger". As he searches its abandoned halls, Jacob begins to believe that the children who once lived there may still be alive- and able to answer questions about Grandfather Portman's mysterious past. Author Ransom Riggs was born in Maryland on a 200 year old farm, and grew up in Florida where he attended the Pine View School for the Gifted. His home state of Florida is the setting in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children until Jacob travels to Wales. The school for gifted children Riggs attended was the inspiration for the Home for Peculiar Children in his book. The main character, Jacob Portman, is also in a few gifted classes before he travels to the Home for Peculiar Children and even earns the ironic name Special Ed." He called me Special Ed because I was in a few gifted classes, which were, technically speaking, part of our school's special–education curriculum, a subtlety of nomenclature that Ricky found endlessly amusing." The old farm Riggs grew up on served as the model for the ancient orphanage. The fact that Ransom Riggs draws from his own life adds realism to a very unrealistic storyline. Admittedly, the storyline is a little slow at parts but it is never predictable. There are twists and turns at every corner and it is worth reading just to see what imaginative element Ransom Riggs comes up with next.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any teen or young adult and urge people not to be out off by the cover art. It is an intriguing read and appeals to those who like adventure, the paranormal, and romance. I give this book two thumbs up. The only critique I have is that there is a smattering of inappropriate language throughout the book. The inappropriate language does add to the authenticity of the dialogue but I would not allow kids under the age of 13 to read this book.

    - Liz O.

"Riggs has a wild imagination that he allows to roam free"

Many have used the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words." In some cases, a picture can lead to a thousand word – as in Rasom Rigg's Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. The book begins when a grandfather comes across abnormal photographs and takes it upon himself to, with his wild imagination, explain these pictures to his grandson Jacob. The book proceeds as the grandfather's stories become exceedingly elaborate and unbelievable. Eventually, Jacob outgrows what he thought of as ignorance and ceases to be convinced of his grandfather's ridiculous stories, only to gain interest again and uncover a world of mysteries and secrets.

Although this book is slightly too farfetched for my taste, for some, Jacob is a very relatable character. One of Jacob's many struggles is feeling like a misfit in his family. This family disconnect is rooted in his parent's different interests. His mother is obsessed with materials while his dad is fascinated with bird watching. Jacob however has no attraction to either. Riggs' does an excellent job connecting the reader to the main character, Jacob. He is an independent person craving approval, a boy experiences similar struggles that many face every day.

The author's style is wonderful. He absolutely continues to grasp your attention throughout the book. The unique story cannot be compared. Riggs' obviously has a wild imagination that he allows to roam freely. The events in the book are so unsuspected that it always has you captivated. Another uncommon thing in the book are the actual pictures on which the stories are based. These visual aids cause the book to seem even more realistic. The pictures throughout the book also allow a better grasp on what it is exactly that the author is describing. This book is different from other books because of the random directions in which the book flows. Riggs' style is one of a kind. The ending of this book sets up to a sequel so it will definitely be interesting to see if or how Riggs' style develops and evolves.

This book was not at all what I expected. The cover is dark and creepy. When I first flipped through it, I felt sure it was going to be a horror story. It does include a few eerie parts but for the most part it is more of an action-adventure or mystery book more than a horror story. Riggs' story even has unexpected parts that shockingly target your emotions. I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It includes most of the parts a good book should have, things like action, adventure, mystery, thrilling family tragedies, suspense, and much more.

This book is full of slow revealing discovery that continues to shock you on every single page. This was definitely not my all-time favorite book but I would recommend it for readers who enjoy all genres. It does not matter what kinds of book you generally read, you will easily enjoy this book. I will warn you that although this is a thrilling and exciting book, it is not as faced paced as it might seem. Over all this is an incredible book and I absolutely recommend it for anyone seeking a fantastic read.

   - Torie P.

"Riggs did not rush the book, but kept your attention"

Ransom Riggs grew up in a lazy fishing town in rural Florida. It was there that he started writing. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a strange book teetering between fantasy and reality. I had just come to accept the fact that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen. The first line of this novel had young readers around the country coveting for more. There is not another book anywhere that captures the aspects this novel does. The pictures, around which the book is structured, give the book both visual clarity and the sense of an eerie reality beyond that of human conception.

Jacob Portman has grown up seeing the pictures and hearing the strange stories his grandfather tells about the peculiar children with whom he spent his childhood. Once he gets to the age where he realizes that these pictures are merely fairy tales, his relationship with his grandfather seems to wither slightly. Several years later when Jacob is a teenager, he gets a strange call from his grandfather. Grandpa Portman is off his meds and rambling about monsters and some of the stories that Jacob had long ago stopped listening to. Just to make sure everything is okay, Jacob goes to see his grandfather. What Jacob finds instead is his grandfather dying in the woods. His last words to Jacob seemed to be a riddle about the peculiar children. On honor of his grandfather's memory he decides to check out the orphanage in which his grandfather had grown up. Questions need answering. Mysteries need solving. What he finds and the people he meets change not only the course of his life will challenge everything he thought he knew about the worlds in which he lives.

Riggs uses the strange pictures to shape this book into a true masterpiece. The creativity and imagination that stems from these pictures is fascinating. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is clever, well written, and gripping. Anyone who picks up this book will be hard pressed to put it down. The vocabulary and diction of the book is perfect for a young adult audience.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a novel that would be good for many different types of readers because it ties reality, fantasy, history, action, mystery, adventure, and romance all into one 350 page book. This novel has an easy steady flow. I felt that it was a perfect amount of exposition and rising action. Riggs did not rush the book but he kept your attention. The novel is very entertaining but I would not recommend it to someone who dislikes fantasy.

Jacob develops a little in the story but it is not a coming of age book at all. I like this about the book because I hate coming of age books and if you are like me and just want a good story, then this book is right up your alley. Although being relatively clean, I would not recommend this book to anyone bellow about 13. The book has a wonderful ending, but also sets the book up for a sequel. So be ye warned if you are not a patient person and need to have another book in your hand right after this one better wait until 2013 for the next book of this series to be out and ready to read.

   - Georgia Claire P.

"Riggs unravels a thoroughly exciting and meticulously written mystery about family secrets and history."

They say a picture is worth a thousand words; in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, pictures may be worth a little more. Written creatively by author Ransom Riggs, this book includes some quite captivating pictures - from a little boy crying in a bunny suit to a single little girl with the reflection of two girls in the water below her. As Riggs cleverly scatters these pictures throughout the book, adding text to fit, he unravels a thoroughly exciting and meticulously written mystery about family secrets and history.

Jacob, a sixteen-year-old boy, has an average life. With a stay at home mother and a father who is obsessed with birds and writing manuscripts, the only thing that makes him very special is that his family owns a chain of drug stores. Jacob's grandfather, who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from his service during WWII, begins to have a mental breakdown. When Jacob receives an alarming phone call, he goes to his grandfather's house to investigate. Jacob finds his grandfather stranded in the woods and he tells Jacob some odd last words. Jacob believes his death was caused by a creature unknown to this world. Jacob finds an old shoe box with some interesting, unexplainable pictures, in his grandfather's belongings. As Jacob starts to dig deeper into his grandfather's past, he discovers that his grandfather once lived on a tiny island off of Wales, where he was an orphan. Though, this orphanage was no ordinary place; it was quite peculiar.

When Jacob does some clever convincing of his father that this island houses thousands of types of birds, he and his father take a trip. When Jacob finds the old orphanage where his grandfather once lived as a young boy, he sees that the orphanage isn't anything special. In fact, this orphanage is run down and dilapidated. Jacob asks some of the locals, but everyone says that there is no one alive that once lived in that house as an orphan.

When Jacob arrives at the island, he meets Emma. She is a "strikingly pretty" girl who can control fire. When Emma and Jacob become friends, she takes him on a trip through a time loop to the 1940s to meet Miss Peregrine. When Jacob goes with Emma, he meets these peculiar children that once lived in this home. When Jacob realizes he is the only one that can see the "hollows" or "hollowgasts", the monsters that he believes killed his grandfather, he knows that he is the only hope for the children's safety.

Riggs' book is very thought out. The book was not given away all at once. He was very careful about how he wrote this book in thought of mystery and excitement. This book would be wonderful for anyone to read.

    - Hayley B.

"an absolute pleasure to read; I was captivated the entire time"

Ransom Riggs' novel, Mrs. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, tells the story of the interesting events in the middle of Jacob Portman's uninteresting life. When he was younger, Jacob always asked why his grandfather, Abe Portman, left his home country, Poland. Every time, his grandfather would begin to tell Jacob fairy tales about how he lived in a house full of peculiar children and how he would have to run away from the monsters that had squirming tentacles coming out of their mouths and there was always a putrid fishy smell about them. Jacob would always run away from his grandfather, laughing and screaming whenever he told the story and pretended to be the monsters.

However, as the years passed, Jacob began to question his grandfather. He would say, "tell me the fairy tale about the monsters again, grandpa!" and his grandfather would reply with a serious, sincere face that the monsters were indeed real and that they should never be treated as a ‘fairy tale'. Jacob wondered about his grandfather's stories. Were they real? Did these monsters exist? His questions eventually lead him on a journey to seek the truth. On this journey, he meets a beautiful peculiar girl names Emma who helps him on his quest.

This book was very well written. It was an absolute pleasure to read and I was captivated the entire time. Riggs' writing style was explained things well, but had a lot of subtle foreshadowing. This novel helps stir up your imagination. The character development showed character traits, both physical and mental, and the pictures included were a great help and a good play on the reader's imagery.

I personally did not like the ending that much because I feel it became an un-ended story. However, rumor about a sequel for Mrs. Peregrine's Home for Unusual Children is about and I absolutely cannot wait!


   - Josie S.

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