Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Book Poster Image
Eerie gothic fantasy a satisfying creep fest for teens.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 64 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Educational value

This book will spark conversations about time loops, paranormal beings and experiences, as well as the author's clever technique of developing characters and their stories based on weird photos of strangers.  Also, the setting of the story itself might stimulate curiosity about Wales, the bog man, and prehistoric burials, as well as what really happened there in World War II.

Positive messages

The Peculiars are characters who seem like misfits. However, what makes them peculiar is a unique talent such as levitating, being invisible, seeing the monsters, having super strength, and so on. They each become heroic by developing and using those talents, and they pool their resources to fight against the evil forces. 

Positive role models & representations

Jacob lies to his father and keeps a huge secret from him. However, he has a valid, unselfish reason that makes sense. Basically, he is honest and brave and makes unselfish choices for others, as do the other Peculiars.

Violence

The grandfather keeps a locker of guns, sleeps with his pistol, and is mauled to death by some mysterious force. Other people have guns and knives and threaten to use them, sheep are mauled, German bombs fall on the orphanage, the Peculiars are threatened by monsters, a townsman is mauled and drowned, monsters are compared to cannibalistic serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, and children fear being eaten. Also, how the prehistoric bog man died is described rather rigorously.

Sex

Some talk of Grandfather as an adulterer. In the time loop, Jacob falls for his grandfather's former girlfriend (she has not aged). They kiss on several occasions, hold hands, and admit their attraction for each other. At first, Jacob resists because he thinks it is kind of creepy, almost incestuous.
 

Language

Words like "s--t," "a--hole," "p---hole," "bastard," "pr--k," "buggerloving arsehumper," etc.

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Adults drink too much at times. The mother drinks wine, the father drinks too much beer when he is feeling like a failure. The main character's best friend smokes and drinks, and reference is made to his pothead cousins.  
 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this New York Times bestseller is unique, intriguing, and teens will find it hard to put down. The storyline is a bit complex, and the dark tone and violent acts blend realism with fantasy to a point that might be confusing to younger kids. The language is also a bit rough for younger readers, and there's mention of adultery and incest, as well as drinking too much to cover pain. Still, the book is fascinating, especially because the vintage photos make all the weirdness seem even eerier, and quite authentic. The book has been adapted for a movie directed by Tim Burton.

User Reviews

Educator and Parent of a 11, 15, and 17 year old Written byLi-berryLady May 31, 2015

Good story but unfortunately, LOTS of inappropriate language!

Read this book years ago when it was published and remembered enjoying it, especially the odd, vintage photographs that added to the peculiar-ness of the story....
Parent Written byrotciv December 19, 2015

Not for tweens, check for content before giving to younger kids

My 11 year old was given this book by his teacher. He is an exceptional reader, and finishes whole novels in a matter of mere hours. I'm always happy when...
Kid, 10 years old October 16, 2011

I LOVE THIS!

I am ten years old am in love with this book!! Sure it has some swears, but very mild, and ones that kids ages 9 and up would already know about. The kissing i...
Teen, 15 years old Written byCalcabrina February 23, 2012

An eerie book with amazing use of old pictures.

I loved this. I loved the characters. I love what Jacob has to go through to become the man he is at the end of the book. It is very moving. I worked to figure...

What's the story?

Sixteen-year-old Jacob grew up on his grandfather’s weird but fascinating stories about his past. Were they true or not? It was hard to tell. When Grandpa dies from a mysterious mauling, Jacob falls apart, and he begins his search for something that will help make some sense of things. With his father, he goes to an island off the coast of Wales to find the orphanage where his grandfather had been sent as a boy, before WWII. There he ventures into a fantastical world of Peculiars, monsters, and time loops, where he uncovers a world stranger and more dangerous than any he could have imagined. Actual vintage photographs, starting with the levitating girl on the cover, are scattered throughout the book, introducing various Peculiars, and moving the story along through several haunting adventures toward its chilling end.

Is it any good?

Just picking up this book, holding it, feeling its heft, and looking at its cover will entice older YA readers to read it. And they won't be disappointed, especially if they like gothic fantasy sprinkled with a little time-traveling adventure, quirky characters, and spine-tingling action. The use of more than 40 unusual but authentic vintage photographs makes the story all the better by lending a sense of eerie realism to its almost absurd, shadowy atmosphere. How the author uses each photo to develop his characters and their story truly is inspiring.

The ending may leave the reader a little unsatisfied and awaiting more adventures from Jacob and his peculiar friends, but those are sure to come. Also, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is headed for the big screen.
 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way Ransom Riggs develops his characters and stories from the photographs. How do you think the photos were made in the first place?How do the photos fit in with the blend of realism and fantasy?

  • What do you think of the level of violence in the novel? is it necessary to the storytelling? Does it fit with the Gothic tone?

  • What other books have you read that feature misfits who become the heroes. Why do you think that is such a popular theme?

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