A Map of Days: Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, Book 4

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
A Map of Days:  Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, Book 4 Book Poster Image
Creepy series installment adds lots of teen angst.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A few brief facts from different historical eras, like when some of the kids experience one aspect of segregation in the South in the mid-1960s and talk briefly about the injustice of it.

Positive Messages

Striking out on your own when you're inexperienced, unprepared, overconfident can have disastrous consequences. If your parental or authority figures are trustworthy, trust that they're doing the right thing and that your chance to grow and prove yourself will come. You may have grown up a lot, but you still don't always know what's best because you don't have enough experience or perspective yet, so talk to a trusted adult before you take drastic action or make a big decision.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jacob is definitely courageous but also foolhardy. He takes risks that put himself and others in danger, all because of an obsession with learning the truth and a certainty that he's grown up and experienced enough to handle any dangers along the way. His motives are good, he really just wants to help, but his attempts to do so also make things worse. Emma is dealing with her own powerful emotions and past and doesn't take on as much of a leadership role. She's also brave, loyal, has good motives, but is a bit lost in terms of who she is, what she wants.

Violence

Monsters with many tongues eat, or try to eat, people. Some scariness and intensity from being chased, in danger, drugged, hypnotized, kidnapped, beaten. Blood's mentioned but not described in detail. A man is attacked by dolls who chew his leg; he screams in pain but afterward shows no sign of pain or injury. Jacob is slapped, kicked, beaten; his nose bleeds and some ribs are cracked. Fighting and fleeing include magical abilities, guns, knives, and tear gas. 

Sex

Mention of a few kisses between Jacob and Emma but no detailed descriptions. Mention that Millard, an invisible boy, is usually naked and some innuendo about body-part size. Jacob and Emma asked if they were "bum-touching."

Language

"Hell," "ass" (body part), "s--t," "damn," and "pissed off." The middle-finger gesture. A character is referred to as "Fartface," Jacob explains that he's using that instead of what the person actually used, which was "F--kface." An evil character calls her servant "Poop." One of the peculiars frequently calls another "idiot" and similar putdowns about her intelligence.

Consumerism

A few food, beverage, pop culture, and car brands mentioned to establish time period, location, character, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A minor teen character offers to pick up beer for a party. Mention of passing bars and places that sell beer cozies. Mention that someone drinks a lot. A bad guy pours himself a glass of brown liquor. Fictional "Mother Dust" powder puts people to sleep. Mention that a school friend is a pothead. Addicts mentioned as no longer being around. A few mentions and images of people smoking cigarettes or cigars. Miss Peregrine lights and smokes a pipe once.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Map of Days is the fourth installment in Ransom Rigg's popular Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series. The events pick up about six weeks after those in the third book, and reading the other books first will deepen the reader's understanding of the characters, events, and world of "peculiars." There are scary monsters that eat people; creepy, vintage photos to add eerie atmosphere; and violence involving magical abilities and real-world weapons like guns and tear gas. A beating is briefly described. Blood's mentioned a few times, and there are some brief descriptions of monsters and fantasy creatures eating people. Sexy stuff includes a teen couple who kiss and hold hands, and who are trying to work out their relationship. A few brief instances mention beer or brown liquor. Several minor characters are described smoking, and a few pictures show people with cigars. Miss Peregrine lights and smokes a pipe once. Fictional "Mother Dust" puts people to sleep for hours at a time. Positive messages, role models, even group unity are not as strong as in earlier books, as the young teens chafe against being treated like children and try to take matters into their own hands. But their actions come from wanting to do good and help others, and they model bravery and creative problem-solving.

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What's the story?

A MAP OF DAYS: MISS PEREGRINE'S PECULIAR CHILDREN, BOOK 4 picks up about six weeks after the events in Book 3. The peculiars are now staying with Jacob at his home in Florida while Miss Peregrine and the other ymbrynes (a female peculiar who can take the form of a bird and manipulate time) concentrate on rebuilding their devastated world. As Jacob is trying to teach the peculiars about his "normal" world, they come across hints that Jacob's grandfather, Abe, was involved in mysterious activities in the peculiar world. Sure that they've done enough growing up to handle whatever comes their way and tired of being treated like children, Jacob, Emma, and a few other peculiar friends set out on an epic road trip from Florida to New York, trying to piece together the truth about Abe. Without telling Miss Peregrine, of course. But by the time they get to New York, things are way out of their control. Will they learn the truth about Abe, and will they be able to put some sort of life together for themselves?

Is it any good?

This fourth installment brings back much of what fans loved about the first three Miss Peregrine books, but a lot of it's diluted by large splashes of teen angst. Sure, A Map of Days has lots of deliciously creepy, vintage photographs (many now in color); sure, it's got hollowgasts, time loops, wights, and even more peculiars, good and bad; and sure, danger and mystery lurk around every corner. But those corners often come after long passages of discussion, argument, endless driving, and fretting about conflicting emotions and deciding futures. At times readers may feel as restless as the teens crammed into the back seat after four or five hours on the road.

That being said, it's still a must-read for fans of the series. Jacob's and Emma's lives are at important turning points, and the answers they're looking for echo back to the past, and will no doubt reverberate far into the future. Answers to questions only raise more questions, and readers will eagerly await the next installment because, make no mistake, this story is far from over.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in A Map of Days. How much is too much? Is it different in books than in movies or TV? Why?

  • Have you read the other books in the series, or seen the movie of the first book? Which did you like best? Why do we like scary books, movies, games, etc.?

  • Have you ever been frustrated by an adult who doesn't seem to understand how grown up you are? What happened? How do you know when you're ready to tackle something on your own?

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