Posts Tagged ‘Ransom Riggs’

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
By Ransom Riggs
ISBN: 9781594744761
Publisher: Quirk Books
Date of Publication: 2011

Reader’s Annotation:
After witnessing the gruesome death of his grandfather, Jacob Portman travels to Wales to learn the truth about his grandfather and to discover the meaning of his grandfather’s collection of strange photographs.

Plot Summary:
Jacob has grown up on his grandfather’s bedtime stories. For years, Grandpa Abraham Portman spun tales about his childhood, with tales of adventure and excitement. Jacob’s favorite stories describe a children’s home in Wales, where children are protected from monsters by a bird, a peregrine. Grandpa Portman even has old photographs of the children who seem to defy gravity and logic with their accomplishments. Yet, as Jacob grows old, the stories begin to seem silly and Jacob begins to ignore them as mere childish fairytales.

When Jacob is fifteen, he is witness to a horrific accident that claims the life of his grandfather. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Jacob finds himself returning to those stories. As Jacob delves further into his grandfather’s past, he begins to realize that maybe his grandfather’s stories were more truth than fiction. Jacob begins to look towards the west for answers. What he discovers is more important than he could have ever imagined. And that what we see is sometimes more than what we can ever understand.

Critical Evaluation:
Ransom Riggs’s first novel reads like a beautiful dream, despite its nightmarish, horrific elements. Using photographs from ten different independent collections, Riggs is able to provide a tangible past to the Welsh children’s home in Grandpa Portman’s stories. While the photographs are an added bonus, they would mean nothing if Riggs’s writing style was unable to match the photograph’s beauty. Luckily, the reader is given a well-written story that readers of all age can enjoy.

In regards to the horrific elements of the story, Riggs succeeds in presenting a scary story for young adult readers. Riggs’s descriptions of the children actually add more to the photographic elements, balancing the story with a lovely visual prose.

Overall, the story was coherent and delightful. This book is highly recommended for those readers yearning for an old-fashioned horror story.

Information about the Author:
From Ransom Riggs’s Webpage, Riggs first studied English at Kenyon Collge, followed by film studies at the University of Southern California. Riggs currently lives in Los Angeles where he combines his passion of writing and visual arts. He is a blogger for MentalFloss.Com.

Ransom Riggs on Twitter

Ransom Riggs on Facebook

Fantasy, Horror/Thriller, Historical Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Magic, Alternative History, Photography

Booktalking Ideas:
What do you see when you take a picture?
How are we different from our parents? From our grandparents? Did you see any similarities?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
School Library Journal suggests a reading grade of 6 to 12. I would recommend this title as an Ages 14 and Up.

Challenging Issues:

There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues would be its horrific elements and violence.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
My husband had picked this book up from the library and suggested I read it. He was willing to pay for late fees just so I would have time to finish it during our vacation. Riggs’s use of photograph, mixed with an engrossing story, provided for an entertaining read. It’s one of the first books I recommend now for readers looking for something different than the mainstream paranormal books that are currently popular amongst teens.

Grajek, S. (2011). What horror is this?!. School Library  Journal. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/newsletters/newsletterbucketsljteen/892814-444/what_horror_is_this.html.csp

Riggs, R. (n.d.). Bio. Retrieved from http://www.ransomriggs.com/bio/

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