Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Monday, June 18, 2012

Plot Summary:
Jakob's grandfather, Abe, was his best friend. Not only did Jakob grow up with grandpa's stories of traveling the world, he hear the tales of his grandfather's childhood at the Island known as Cairnholm Bay. Jakob's grandfather's past was not easy. After escaping the Nazis, during World War II, Abe lost his family and was shipped off to Cairnholm Bay to live at Miss Peregrine's Home. These were the happiest time of of Abe's life and the tragedy struck. Jakob's father, who was not as close to his father like Jakob was, said that he was hardly ever there for him, which struck Jakob as odd. As Jakob got older, he started to realize that the stories that his grandfather told were too goo to be true and then, eventually, he stopped believing them. Now, at sixteen, Jakob is convinced that his grandpa is losing his mind. One day, he received a frantic phone call from Abe about the "others" and that he must escape. Although Jakob is worried about his grandfather, he doesn't know what to believe so he told Abe that he would stop by when his shift at the Smart Aid was over. With the help of his buddy, Dylan, Jakob goes out to the senior community that Abe lives at. What was supposed to be a routine visit turned out to be a nightmare; Jakob found his grandfather's body in the forest and caught a glimpse of a gruesome creature; just before Abe passed away he uttered his final words to his grandson, which leave Jakob terrified, confused, and in shock. Haunted by nightmares, Jakob starts putting together his grandfather's stories at the behest of his psychiatrist, which not only take him on a journey to Wales, but on a quest to uncover the truth about his grandfather, Miss Peregrine's home, and the darkness that shrouds his grandfather's past.

Critical Evaluation:
Ransom Riggs has written an amazing story where reality and fantasy collide. What were supposed to be tales of magic and mystery, Jakob learns that these "fancies" were real, especially the people in the photographs. I really didn't know what to expect when I read this story and I was plenty surprised as to how the tale shifted from what could be an excellent horror story to a thrilling science fiction/fantasy. I really did not expect time travel at all and it was really exciting! I absolutely love all of the children and Miss Peregrine; not only are they unique, but of all the supposed "normal" people in the world, they are the most real and stable. Compared to Jakob's family and the people of Cairnholm, the peculiar people have it together; they feel joy, happiness, loyalty, and love for one another, which is hard to get nowadays. Furthermore, since this world exists in a time loop before the island is bombed by the Nazis, it is free from the fear that Jakob runs into when he first crosses over. This story takes place during an incredibly volatile time, which not only explains the uneasiness of something, or someone, out of the ordinary, but conveys how the beauty of isolation. Miss Peregrine created the loop to not only protect the children from those who condemn them, but it also prevents the children from leaving. In many ways, Jakob loves and despises the loop.  Although he understands the beauty of the loop, which saved his grandfather's life, he also understood why his grandfather left the safety of Miss Peregrine's home. As readers venture into the story, not only will they uncover some dark secrets, they will also see why Jakob had to take this journey and how the fate of Miss Peregrine's world depend on him. For most teens, they don't think themselves to be extraordinary, but, after reading this book, I hope the realize the strength within themselves to follow their hearts and find their purpose without fear and hesitation. I am definitely looking forward to the sequel!

Information about the Author:
According to his website:
I was born on a 200-year-old farm in rural maryland, where at the tender age of five I decided that I definitely wanted to be a farmer when I grew up, because being a farmer meant driving tractors.  Then, partially as a result of my new ambition, my mom moved us far away to Florida, where there were relatively few farms but lots and lots of old people and not very much for kids to do.  In retrospect, it was precisely because there wasn’t a lot to do, and because the internet didn’t exist and cable TV was only like twelve channels back then, that I was forced to make my own fun and my own stories -- and that’s what I’m still doing, only now I get paid for it.  So thanks, sleepy Florida fishing village!

I grew up writing stories and making videos in the backyard with my friends.  I knew I wanted to do one or both of those things in some professional capacity when I got older, but I didn’t know how.  For three summers during high school I attended the University of Virginia’s Young Writer’s Workshop, and I still consider it one of the shaping experiences of my life.  I met so many great, brilliant people, and it convinced me that it was possible to make a life for myself as a writer.

I also knew I wanted to make movies.  So I compromised, and went to Kenyon College first to study English,  then moved out to Los Angeles to go to film school at the University of Southern California.  Looking back, that was a lot of time and money spent on school, but I don’t regret it at all.  Being part of those creative communities gave me lots of time to practice writing things and making movies before I had to go out and try to do either of those things professionally.

Genre:
Teen Mysteries

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up


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Awards & Recognition:

From Amazon.com:

“A tense, moving, and wondrously strange first novel. The photographs and text work together brilliantly to create an unforgettable story.”—John Green, New York Times best-selling author of Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns

“With its X-Men: First Class-meets-time-travel story line, David Lynchian imagery, and rich, eerie detail, it’s no wonder Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has been snapped up by Twentieth Century Fox. B+”—Entertainment Weekly

“Readers searching for the next Harry Potter may want to visit Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”—CNN

“You'll love it if you want a good thriller for the summer. It's a mystery, and you'll race to solve it before Jacob figures it out for himself.”—Seventeen“Riggs deftly moves between fantasy and reality, prose and photography to create an enchanting and at times positively terrifying story.”—Associated Press

“It’s an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.”— Publishers Weekly

“An original work that defies categorization, this first novel should appeal to readers who like quirky fantasies. Riggs includes many vintage photographs that add a critical touch of the peculiar to his unusual tale.”—Library Journal

“His premise is clever, and Jacob and the children are intriguing characters.”—Booklist

“Readers will find this book unique and intriguing.”— School Library Journal
“Somewhat reminiscent of Jack Finney’s Time and Again, Rigg’s first novel is enchanting…highly recommended.”—Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

“In a time when so much summer entertainment seems to be more of the same, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a pleasant surprise—a story that is fresh and new, engrosses and grips, and provides enough clues so that the ending makes sense and seems thoughtful.” —Popmatters.com

“Hands down, this is one of the best books of recent years...both creepy and terrifyingly delicious.”—Forces of Geek

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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