Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, is an imaginative and suspenseful story written for young teens that uses actual old photographs as illustrations. The story’s hero is Jacob Portman, a 16-year-old who works part-time at his family’s drug store chain. He regularly visits his aging grandfather, who appears to be suffering from increasing dementia, fearing monsters have found him and begging for the key to his gun cabinet. When Jacob finds Grandpa Portman fatally wounded, the elderly Portman tells Jacob, “Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man’s grave. September third, 1940.” Grandpa Portman’s mysterious last words spur Jacob to solve his murder, and prove that he himself wasn’t imagining the thing he thought he saw at the scene of his grandfather’s attack.
The elder Portman revealed little about his early childhood, including that he was secreted away from encroaching Nazis in Eastern Europe in an orphanage on the secluded island of Cairnholm, Wales. As a young child, Grandpa Portman would show Jacob pictures of the children he claimed where in the orphanage with him, children with bizarre talents and attributes like super-human strength, the ability to create fire in their hands, and a mouth in the back of their heads. Jacob gradually stopped believing his Grandpa’s stories, and the elder Portman put away his box of photographs. Feeling that Cairnholm might shed light on his grandfather’s last words, Jacob convinces his father, along with the help of his Jacob’s psychiatrist, to travel to the island. What Jacob discovers is far more sinister than children with super-human abilities. He discovers his grandfather’s murderer and realizes how close the danger is to him, as well.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is an entertaining story for young teens and up. The photographs included in the book are copies of actual photos collectors offered to the author and fed the story’s plot and character development. Because of the number of photographs, the book takes longer to load and is a larger electronic file if you’re reading an electronic version. Also, there are letters reproduced as images which can’t be enlarged on some eReaders, so that an actual paper copy might be a better choice for this book.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was published in 2011 by Quirk Books.