Thursday, June 30, 2016

Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children: It's All about Timing

Readers may be as tired of hearing about my move as I am of the process itself, but the ongoing experience of unpacking and the discovery that results has provided opportunity to muse on certain life concepts. The biggest challenge centers first on what to keep, what to give or throw away; now, though, I am making decisions about what to leave stored in boxes and what to place within reach. I came across a Pampered Chef ice shaver I've had for years and used just once--just in time to entertain my grandsons who are visiting for the week.

Now that I have a few sets of book shelves installed in what can still be called "the box room," I have made the hard decisions about which books earn a spot. Do I shelve the ones I have read and loved, the ones to which I return as references, or the ones I hope to read next? I did a little of all three.

As I finished one book and selected another, in this case for a trip to the beach, I came across Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, a book that I've owned since its publication. I came across it at the NCTE annual convention, where I often discovered good books. I'll confess, I judged the book by its cover. I was drawn to the old black and white photograph of the little girl who, on close observation, appears to be levitating.

The book starts far from the home mentioned in the title, as Jacob, sixteen-year-old boy, responds to a frantic call from his grandfather and finds him in the woods behind his house the victim of a deadly attack. In the aftermath, Jacob suffers from nightmares and spends time with a counselor.  Going through his grandfather's collection of letters and photographs, he is drawn to visit the English island where the man had been sent as a boy escaping the Nazis.

Once he and his father reach the isolated island, he finds himself moving back and forth in time, meeting all the "peculiar" children who lived in the home with his grandfather before the man chose to leave to fight against the German forces in WWII. At this point, author Ransom Riggs moves back and forth between realism and fantasy as Jacob is drawn into the challenge facing the children who have been living and reliving the same day the island was bombed by Nazi forces.

The conclusion begs for a sequel, and since I waited to read the book, I don't have to wait for the sequel to be written. I particularly look forward to the photographs, which I learned at the end of the book, are real photographs from several collections. My first instinct is to start looking for this kind of photos at antique stores. But then I'd have to find somewhere to store them.

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