Characters and Photos in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs, an American filmmaker and writer, first got his idea for a novel with pictures when he randomly ran across some sinister-looking vintage photos. Ransom recalls, “[the photos] suggest stories even though you don’t know who the people are or exactly when they were taken” (Staskiewicz 1). Based off the photos, he began a story and the more he wrote, the more inherent it became that he searched for more. He wound up combing swap meets and flea markets for evocative photos that he felt deserved a spot in his novel. With 349 pages of a storyline that defies categorization, characters that are eerily intriguing, and eye-catching, eccentric, archaic photographs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a quirky and noteworthy young adult novel.Category, or genre, is what gives a novel a sense of belonging in the literary world. Category is what separates books into groups so that readers may identify a favorite and select other novels that are ideally the same. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a whole other category by itself. S.G.B., in Audiofile Magazine, writes, “In addition to creating one of the best titles for a young person’s book in recent memory, Riggs has also produced a clever and unusual first-person story of time travel” (60). In addition to time travel – or the time continuum in which Sept. 3, 1940 plays over and over again – as an element of the storyline, the novel also introduces the wildest of characters. Majorie Kehe – in the Christian Science Monitor – says, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children [is] where a handful of the world’s neglected and forgotten “peculiar” folk rise again to tell their stories and attempt to discover a niche for themselves in the world as it is today” (1). With a first person point of view that is written in a looping, time travel format and characters that defy reality and all things that are possible, many agree that Riggs’ novel is a category all by itself.As mentioned above, the characters are a vital component of what makes Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children such a quirkily loveable novel. An article in Publisher’s Weekly illustrates the same sentiment by saying, “It’s [Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children] an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters” (1). Aside from the characters in the novel being well-constructed, they also offer readers a story of their own. The article goes on to say, “Riggs creates supernatural backstories and identities for those pictured in them (a boy crawling with bees, a girl with untamed hair carrying a chicken)” (Publisher’s Weekly 1). Every novel has its memorable share of characters, but Ransom Riggs takes things further by not only developing characters that share their own personal story with the reader – aside from the main storyline featuring Jacob Portman and his quest to find out the truth about his grandfather’s past – but by developing characters that are well-developed and creepily intriguing at the same time. That, in the literary world, is no easy task and something that only enriches the storyline within Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The most distinguishing characteristic of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is its inclusion of photographs within its pages. Not only do the photos make the novel that much more unique, but Ransom Riggs admits that the storyline was ultimately created by piecing these seemingly random photos together. Most readers would agree that novels are meant to leave the reader with the power to turn the words intertwined within the pages into a product of their own imagination, but with a tale like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, in which Ransom Riggs portrays images that are vividly wild and unimaginable, the photographs add to the oddity of the novel by making it a reality. Rachel Orvino, in Entertainment Weekly, writes, “What about the box of strange photos his grandfather possessed, including an image of someone with a mouth on the back of his head? Those photos, in fact, are sprinkled throughout the book, adding a whimsical edge to the text and serving as an introduction to the “children” Jacob befriends, not to mention Miss Peregrine herself (one image of the headmistress shows her hunched figure in silhouette, smoking a pipe). The images give depth [to the novel]” (1). Overall, readers and critics alike agree that Ransom Riggs’ carefully picked vintage photographs that decorate the pages of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children only enrich the peculiarity of the novel.With a young adult literary realm that is constantly plagued by novels that are unmentionably reminiscent of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter or Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a delightful breath of fresh air. From a complied collection of random vintage photographs, Ransom Riggs manages to create a story in which readers can come to love quirky fantasy. With a story so vastly strange it deserves its own category, characters that defy reality, and photographs that help develop the eeriness of the novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children takes readers on an imaginative ride and offers a story that is thought-provokingly odd, yet richly refreshing.Kehe, Marjorie. “Editor’s choice: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” Christian Science Monitor 17 June 2011: N.PAG. MAS Ultra – School Edition. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.”Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” Publishers Weekly 25 Apr. 2011: 139. Literature Resource Center. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.Orvino, Rachel. “[Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children].” Entertainment Weekly 1159 (2011): 103. Readers’ Guide Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 15 Mar. 2013.S. G., B. “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.” Audiofile 20.3 (2011): 60. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.Staskiewicz, Keith. “Those Creepy Pictures Explained.” Entertainment Weekly 1159 (2011): 103. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 15 Mar. 2013.