Yet another book that had been sitting on my To Read shelf, Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children had me at the cover. I’m a huge horror movie fan and lover of the Tim Burton aesthetic so I was all game for this book.
The debut novel by American author Ransom Riggs (which, can we just agree is an awesome name) follows Jacob, a young boy, on his quest to discover truth within his grandfather’s fantastical stories about peculiar children that live in an orphanage in Europe.
I had low expectations for this novel because I always look for spooky books and get disappointed. It takes true delicacy to craft a story with a mixture of suspense, magic, and heart, but Riggs has done it. I adore this novel. The story is incredible because of its details and wonder. It reminds me of a mixture of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (both of which I loved as a kid) and X-Men First Class.
Riggs is, by trade, a filmmaker, and his storytelling reflects that. Each description is done with such precision that it becomes a movie in your mind. The pacing in this novel is excellent. It was an easy read and a fast one because I could not wait to finish it and uncover the mystery along with the main character. Riggs also released a book about the methods and ideas of Sherlock Holmes, and I think some of that information has found a home in the pages of this novel because its mystery is so perfectly done.
Film rights were sold to 20th Century Fox, and Jane Goldman (Kick Ass, X-Men: First Class, The Woman in Black) is set to adapt it to film, and Tim Burton is set to direct it. (How perfect are these choices?!) According to IMDB.com, the film is set to release in 2015.
It has an unexpected element in that the author includes pictures of the home and the people in it that are real photographs from private collections. Riggs has creatively incorporated them as photographic evidence that the children exist, tailoring his story to match the pictures. Apparently, he was only going to assemble a picture book before someone advised him to craft a story to match the photos. I wonder if the film will include these great pictures because they’re so memorable!
Here is a great little book trailer that perfectly captures the novel’s beginning.
As it is of the mystery genre, I don’t want to give away too much about the plot because half the fun of reading is discovering wonders along with Jacob as you move back and forth between time and reality.
Quirky, charming, eerie, and moving, this novel is a must-read for the young and old. Scholastic recommends it for grades 6-8 which I think is appropriate given the level of reading difficulty and the content which is just adult enough to interest young readers but not so adult that they are traumatized forever. I don’t know if I would teach this book in the classroom just because I’m not sure it’s as academic as it is entertaining, but I would be open to the possibility just because I think this is such an engaging book for middle school readers.
- Tim Burton’s Adaptation of ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ Gets Release Date (yabookreviewer.wordpress.com)
- See the title and an excerpt from the sequel to ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ — EXCLUSIVE (thehorrificallyhorrifyinghorrorblog.com)
- Young Adult: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (jdcgzm.wordpress.com)