When a reader comes upon this book they are shown some seriously odd and slightly creepy photographs on the cover: A girl wearing a crown who levitates above the ground; two small children in goosebump-inducing masks; and, one girl standing at the edge of a lake, as two young girls stare back at her from her reflection in the pond. These are the students who attended Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and Jacob Portman is about to find out exactly who these children/creatures were.
The story begins when Jacob explains to the world that when he’d just come to accept that his life would be ordinary, that’s when “extraordinary things started to happen.” Grandpa Portman was Jacob’s favorite person growing up. Grandpa had a story for absolutely everything and a wealth of pictures that literally could not be explained.
Grandpa Portman’s life was difficult growing up. When he was just twelve-years-old he escaped Poland before the Germans marched in and took the rest of his family. After that, Grandpa Portman ended up on a small island going to a “school” that no one else understood; home to some of the oddest children who seemed as if they came straight from a circus act. Grandpa told Jacob all about the levitation, mind games, and various things these children could do; there was even a boy who had wasps living inside of him. These children had also escaped the gas chambers and were being taken care of by a woman named Miss Peregrine.
Jacob’s life is quite ordinary. His Mom and Dad are Jewish and they own a chain of Smart Aid stores - a fairly rich enterprise. Jacob’s best friend is named Ricky, and he works for his family’s store (but since his family owns it, Jacob doesn’t really do all that much). His Grandpa Portman has gotten old, and has begun to go a little mentally “unbalanced,” calling Jacob at work to let him know that people are after him. Jacob loves Grandpa, but is sort of used to the stories and fairy-tales that he comes up with (even though the pictures are very convincing).
One day Jacob and Ricky run to Grandpa’s house to check on him and find the house a mess and a slit through the screen door, but no Grandpa. He is out in the woods, suffering. Someone has come to kill him and what Jacob and Ricky see in those woods is enough to scare anyone senseless. As Jacob holds Grandpa and watches him die, Grandpa has an odd message for him - telling Jacob about finding things like the old bird, a loop, an ‘Emerson’ letter, and more.
These clues, and an old book given to Jacob that Grandpa left behind, sends him to an island where an “old bird” named Miss Peregrine once sat in a school that was bombed during the war; a school where only Grandpa Portman walked out alive.
There are so many thrills, chills, twists, and turns, that it would be a crime to reveal anything that happens on that island. But readers will become so engrossed with this story that they will not want to put it aside - not even if their own house falls down around them. This author has done a truly amazing job of bringing dreams, fairy-tales, and nightmares to life - and the pictures are simply outstandingly cool!
Quill Says: We cling to our fairy-tales until the price becomes too high. Well, for Miss Peregrine’s, the price was high and the story is outstanding!