Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (paperback)

by Ransom Riggs

AR Level 5.7, 13 points

I’d heard about this book here and there.  One of my students ordered it in a book order and the title sounded interesting, but it was long before I even considered my reading challenge.  (I was all “read, read, read!” but I never actually picked up a book myself- what a hypocrite.)  When I heard that my love, Lemony Snicket, was interviewed by Ransom Riggs at the Festival of Books last weekend, I googled Riggs to find out who he was and saw he authored this book.  If he’s good enough to share a stage or a platform or whatever with Snicket, he must be worth reading.  Not to mention being on the New York Times Best Sellers List, but you know, that’s secondary. 

What I didn’t know about this book was the fact that it is dark- Harry Potter dark.  There are parts that might not be appropriate for younger readers, and I have to admit that my heart raced a few times after some of the creepier parts.  I came to school and scolded my student who let me borrow the book for not warning me that I’d get creeped out!  She, of course, just laughed at me and told me it didn’t bother her.  Once you get past the initial shock, though, it’s not so bad.

The story starts out with a boy named Jacob and a family tragedy.  Have you ever lost someone in your family, and then realized there were so many questions you wanted to ask that person, but never got a chance?  My grandma died when I was in college, and while I have been told I had a lot in common with her, there are so many things I wish I’d had the chance to talk to her about.  So anyway, Jacob loses his grandfather and then discovers this past life he had, these secrets he’d kept (but not really), and explanations for why his grandfather was so cuckoo.  He travels to a Welsh island with a long history that helps Jacob understand the stories his grandfather told, and meets some new friends (and enemies) while he’s there.  I can’t tell too much about what happens without giving the story away, because anything I’d say would be too much information!  There are plot twists and chapter cliffhangers that I don’t want to spoil for you.

I can’t talk about this book without mentioning the pictures.  Riggs collects old photographs and built back stories and plot twists around the photographs.  They really add to the story and the characters.  However, I sometimes had to look ahead to see if there was a bizarre picture, especially if I was reading at night.  I didn’t want to dream about the images or wonder if a white-eyed wight was waiting for me in the hallway.

What I liked about this book was…nearly everything!  I’ve said before that I love books with well-developed characters, and this book has many well-developed characters that you grow to love throughout the book.  The main character is the typical underdog you can relate to- a teenager, misunderstood by his peers, highly intelligent, with a kind heart, and a do-gooder attitude.  You just like the protaganists of the story, and hate the antagonists.  That’s what you’re supposed to do, right?

What I didn’t like was that it was a little Harry Potter-ish.  Don’t get me wrong- I enjoyed Harry Potter.  I read all of the books and saw all of the movies the weekend they came out in the theater.  I started to sense a pattern, and it became a little predictable.  And I didn’t expect the story NOT to end when I finished the book.  So, I guess that means I’ll be starting Hollow City tomorrow!

Thank you to Daniela for lending me both books.  I love when a student can recommend a book for her teacher!

Book 3 of 52

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