“A picture is worth a thousand words,” but what if said picture was somehow intertwined within a story? Many would think that such tales would be for children learning how to read—Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is anything but a silly kids’ tale. It is an eerier, gothic story that would interest readers, ages 13 and up. However, what makes this story such an amazing read are the photos. Author Ransom Riggs is an avid collector of vintage photos, which he would buy from flea markets and garage sales. He noticed that the strangest photos were of children. Riggs, inspired by his collection, decided to craft a hidden fantasy world filled with the peculiar children in his photos.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children follows sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman after death befalls his strange grandfather, Abraham Portman. As a child his grandfather would often tell him about monsters and children with powers, showing Jacob photos of little girls floating, an invisible boy and a girl who could make fire in her hands. These tales were interesting to Jacob at first, but he began to grow too old for silly fairytales. Was his grandfather lying? Was he just a senile old man with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from serving in World War II? Instead of finding out the answers to these questions, Jacob was always left with more questions.
One day his parents sent him to check on his grandfather. His search led him to the woods where he found his grandfather dying from what appeared to be an animal attack. Abraham’s last words were, “Go back to the Island. Emmerson—the letter. Tell them what happened.” As Jacob tried to decipher the words, he saw the monster that killed his grandfather. A creature, almost man-like, with carbon-black skin that hung loose from his body, and long eel-like tentacles hung from its mouth. The creature scurried off as his grandfather died in his arms. When his parents and police arrived no one believed him, so he had to search for the answers himself. Thus begins the tale of Jacob Portman as he searches for the truth.
Riggs’ novel deals with very real themes: death, trust, love, coping, self-discovery and family tension. Teenagers often feel that their parents don’t understand them, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children highlights this struggle with fantasy elements. The most interesting aspect of this novel is the inclusion of Riggs’ peculiar photo collection. This book is an excellent read for anyone who wants to explore the strange and unknown for Halloween. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was also made into a major motion picture, and released in theaters on September 30th.