A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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