Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Book review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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Monday, 30 May 2016 - Last Updated on June 7, 2016
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

“I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.” – Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

About Ransom Riggs

Ransom Riggs is an American writer and filmmaker who likes to tell stories using both words and pictures. He grew up on a farm on the Eastern shore of Maryland. He began writing stories at a young age using an old typewriter. Riggs became fixated with photography after receiving a camera as a Christmas present. From still photos, he developed an interest in making short movies starring himself and friends when he got hold of a half-broken video camera. His passion in story writing, photography and movie making evolved through the years.

He is the author of the best seller novel “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”. The novel has sold millions of copies and been translated into 40 languages. It enjoyed being on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two years. The novel is also a USA Today and IndiebBound bestseller.
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” was first published on June 7, 2011 by Quirk Books.

Amazon.com named “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” as one of “100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime”.

Its film adaptation by Director Tim Burton is set to arrive in theaters worldwide on September 30, 2016.

Riggs’ other works include “The Sherlock Holmes Handbook: The Methods and Mysteries of the World’s Greatest Detective” (2009), “Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past” (2012), “Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Children” (2014), and “Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #3” (2015).

Riggs takes pride in being a novelist, a photo collector, and an occasional short filmmaker. He is married to a fellow writer named Tahereh Mafi.

About the cover and title

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” comes in a black and white cover except for “The New York Times Best Seller” golden sticker. There’s a haunting image of a young girl with long hair. She is wearing what appears to be a tiara on her forehead, a simple ruffled dress, leggings, and dark shoes. Her feet do not touch the ground. She is levitating in the woods.

Peculiar children

Mysterious tale

Mysterious tale

The 352-page book starts with Jacob Portman’s narration about how his Grandpa Portman influenced a big part of his childhood.

When Jacob was young, he wanted to be an explorer. His Grandpa Portman, a World War II veteran and Jewish refugee told him extraordinary stories about his own childhood. He talked about flesh-eating monsters. His grandfather described them as “awful hunched-over ones with rotting skin and black eyes.” The monsters were invisible except for their shadows. They are equipped with squirming tentacles that lay hidden inside their mouths. Without warning, they could lash out and pull victims into their hungry jaws.

Grandpa Portman’s stories occupied Jacob’s subconscious. He would often have a hard time sleeping because of the thought of monsters lurking outside his window. As a child, he was amazed by his grandfather’s courage to battle with the monsters. Grandpa Portman talked about his life in Welsh children’s home which he claims is designed to keep kids safe from monsters. It’s a place where the sun shined without fail and nobody gets sick or dies. He says that it is protected by a wise old bird — a big hawk that smoked a pipe.

Jacob is captivated by his grandpa’s stories about the strange children. There was a girl who had the ability to fly, a boy who had a swarm of bees living inside of his body, and siblings who could lift heavy boulders over their heads. Grandpa Portman said that their peculiar characteristics made them target of the monsters.

To prove his story, Grandpa Portman showed Jacob four old photographs kept inside an old cigar box. There was a photo of what appeared like an ensemble of clothes without a person in it. Grandpa Portman said that it’s a picture of an invisible man named Millard Nullings. He had the habit of removing his clothes so that he could stealthily wander around and observe people including Grandpa Portman.

Jacob wondered about the photo of a little girl floating in the air (the same one on the cover of the book). Grandpa said that the young girl in the picture had a hard time controlling herself. In fact, he and the other kids sometimes had to tie a rope around her to prevent her from floating away.

The girl who is lighter than air is later known in the story as Olive Abroholos Elephanta. She was dubbed “The Levitating Girl” in the talent show.

There was also a photo a skinny boy lifting a boulder named Victor Bruntley. Grandpa Portman explained that Victor and his sister Bronwyn were not intellectually gifted but they were very strong.

Later in the book, it is revealed that the Bruntley siblings lived with an abusive step-father. Bronwyn didn’t realize her own strength until the evening that she snapped her mean stepfather’s neck.

Bronwyn could carry things which normal people are incapable of lifting. In the circus, Bronwyn could carry a giant boulder as big as a refrigerator.

Her brother Victor was killed by a hollowgast. Enoch O’Connor, who had the ability to animate the dead for short periods of time, brought Victor to life.

The last photograph was an image of the back of someone’s head with a face painted on it. Grandpa Portman claimed that the person had two mouths, one in front and another at the back.

This peculiar child is later revealed in the story as Claire Densmore. She is the youngest among the peculiar children. She is described as a “backmouth”. Hidden behind her thick golden curls is another mouth that can eat.

A boy named Hugh Apiston is capable of commanding and keeping the swarm of bees living in his stomach safe. When he was young, he ate a lot of honeycomb and accidentally swallowed a bee. Hugh realized that the bee didn’t mind being inside his stomach so he kept on eating honeycomb. It didn’t take long before a hive was formed inside of him.

Other peculiar children are later introduced in the book like Emma Bloom who can make fire with her hands, Horace Somnusson who has premonitory visions and dreams, and Fiona Frauenfeld who can make plants grow.

As Jacob grew older, his fascination about his grandfather’s story turned to doubt. He became skeptical about his grandpa’s tales. There came a point when Jacob made up his mind that the story about the monsters and the peculiar children were just fairy tales.

When he abruptly told his grandfather about his thoughts, he was surprised that the old man did not get mad or insisted that his stories were real. He simply said “Okay” without a hint of defiance.

Adventure unfolds

As you continue to read the story, more magical elements are unraveled. Jacob finds out that his Grandpa Portman’s stories are true after all when the old man is killed by a monster. In a surprise twist, Jacob discovers that he is peculiar himself like his grandfather because he could see the monsters that are invisible to the naked eye. Jacob enters the “Time Loop” created by Miss Peregrine where he comes face to face with all the peculiar children.

Ransom Riggs takes his readers into a bizarre and mysterious journey. You have to read the whole book to appreciate the full story.

“Though technically a children’s book, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is more Grimm’s than Disney, and Riggs’ images, dropped like bread crumbs, could lead audiences of any age happily down the path of its spellbinding tale.” – Florida Times-Union


Photos by author. Some rights reserved.
Rachel Yapchiongco, also known as Rach to her friends, is a Psychology and Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University. Rachel is a mom to a charming boy and married to an entrepreneur who has a passion for cooking. She shares parenting experiences and slices of everyday life on her personal blog called Heart of Rachel.

Ma. Rachel Yapchiongco (389 Posts)

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