IntroductionIn his debut novel for teens, author and filmmaker Ransom Riggs mixes vintage photographs with fiction to create a fantasy story both unique and mesmerizing. Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children is a story that pits truth versus fiction, and leads a young boy to a mysterious island off the coast of Wales to find out if the stories of his childhood are real.
The StoryFifteen-year-old Jacob loves to look at the old photographs and listen to his grandfather’s strange stories of orphaned children who lived on a mysterious island. Tales of the peculiar children who levitated, created fire in their hands, and were invisible were Grandpa Abe’s childhood friends before he left the island to fight in the war. Jacob finds these fantastic tales from an eccentric old man endearing, but hardly true; yet when he witnesses the brutal murder of his grandfather and hears the urgency in the dying man’s final words, Jacob is no longer sure what is real.
To find the truth about his grandfather and deal with the loss, Jacob and his dad take a trip to the isolated island of his grandfather’s stories. Just off the coast of Wales Jacob finds the abandoned orphanage and goes in search of the mysterious Miss Peregrine. To his amazement, Jacob finds that the magical world of his grandfather’s stories is not only real, but being hunted by deadly enemies. With the discovery of his own peculiar ability, Jacob must now decide if his destiny is to help his new friends or continue with the life he’s always known.
Author Ransom RiggsBy trade, Ransom Riggs is a filmmaker. He earned an English degree from Kenyon College and lives with his family in California. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is his first fiction book, but Riggs wrote a nonfiction book about the life and methods of Sherlock Holmes called The Sherlock Holmes Handbook. Riggs continues to make films and has plans to write more books. According to Riggs, he is now working on a sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. (Source: Ransom Riggs' Web site).
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: My RecommendationsIf you haven’t really looked at the cover of this book, look again. Did you notice something unusual about the girl? Look closer. Is she standing on the ground…or levitating above it? Beginning with the vintage photograph of a young girl in a tiara and early twentieth century garb, readers are compelled to discover who Miss Peregrine is and what types of peculiar children attend her school. Thus begins the fantastic story of Jacob and his search to uncover the truth of his grandfather’s childhood stories.
Fact or fiction? As readers we are introduced to the peculiar children by way of vintage photographs that seem to give credibility to the story. Author Ransom Riggs seamlessly weaves the pictures into his fantastic tale that builds a reader’s curiosity about the actual children in the photographs. This unusual combination of picture and story is a perfect creative outlet for this filmmaker/writer.
Full of adventure, mystery, and romance, Riggs has created a first rate novel for teen readers who are looking for adventure and the bizarre. This young adult book is a great read for teens and adults, and I highly recommend it for readers ages 12 and up. (Quirk Books, 2011. ISBN: 9781594744761).