Thursday, January 26, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This is the first book that I have specifically read for my research symposium, and to be honest it was like watching a scary movie. Which I discovered when I had to finish it before the semester started and I read it before bed. 

That being said, it was surprisingly interesting. The beginning of the book was kinda slow, but as I kept reading it got more and more interesting. The author uses actual pictures that "artists" find at rummage sales and flea markets and put in their displays. The pictures really make the book. They are basically sideshow pictures that are suuuuuuuuuuper creepy!

I am doing a presentation on current trends in children literature. Because this is such a popular book that is getting a ton of attention right now, this is one of the books that I read. 
One issue that I want to address in my presentation is that some childrens literature has gotten to a point where it is somewhat inappropriate for children.... that being said, this book is WAY too creepy for children.

When I first saw these pictures I thought they were creepy. Keep in mind that these books are written for "young adults" but I would say the story is more for 10/12 year old's after reading it. While it is a GOOD story, there are these bad creepy black monsters that chase peculiar children around trying to brutally murder them. Age appropriate? Not in my opinion... Now I am not by any means saying that children should read books like "The Babysitter's Club" and "Hardy Boys" until they are 18. However, these books are for younger kids. I do not care what kids learn from video games, R rated movies, and shows on television. Just because they have access to creepier, scarier things doesn't diminish the fact that this book is DARK. 

In the first few chapters of the book, Jacob, the main character, talks about his life as a 16 year old boy. He describes hating his job, and the fact that his life is quite boring. He also describes his close relationship with his grandfather who has wild stories, that are presumably fictional. I am going to try REALLY hard not to ruin this book, so if I do not succeed in that attempt I apologize. For a reason unbeknown to YOU (but I know haha!) Jacob runs across these children who are quite PECULIAR! They have weird traits about them, some of them are things that you would normally see in series like X-Men, but then some of them are just super creepy and weird. 

Through out the book Jacob is basically trying to avoid having a mental breakdown, something that I know 10/12 year old's sometimes experience, although, seriously? Come on... One of the main characters in the book is the psychiatrist! There are many situations in today's world where I feel children are thrust into situations that are far beyond their age, and this is an example in the book. People who have barely reached puberty do NOT need to be reading about mental breakdowns. That being said, I do like some aspects of Jacob. He is constantly feeling like he does not fit in, and is confused about what he wants to do in his life. I think this is something that is good for young kids to read about. Many of them are stuck between childhood and being a teenager and really have no clue where they belong.
I suppose there are situations where children can relate to feeling peculiar, although, I doubt it was because of things like walking on the ceiling, raising people from the dead, and seeing what can only be described adequately as demons....

What happen to the peculiar children that has super powers?!?!?! When I grew up children were fighting evil but it was much more animated and cartoonish... 

I never thought Wolverine, the Rescue Rangers, or Darwing Duck would come walking through my door to SCARE me before bedtime! I looked up to these super hero's (as unrealistic as they were) and I cheered for the bad guy that did not look nearly as creepy and scary as the GOOD GUYS in this book!

Another thing that was touched on in this book was an enormous amount of violence. Obviously if you read any young adult novels lately you would see that violence has become a HUGE trend in these books. Example: Hunger Games. Love the books, but CRAZY violent. In this book, people are brutally murdered. They are shoved into a ice freezer to be preserved until the authorities come (somewhat mob style...). They are brought back to life by a heart that is not inside their body, and they beg to be killed again because they cannot handle the pain that they are feeling over from the way they initially died. I know that kids have always been exposed to violence, I know that my parents were much more okay with me seeing violence then they were with my brothers and I seeing a sex scene in a movie. However, these situations, in my opinion, are NOT appropriate for children.

After you have heard me complain about this book quite a bit, I probably should say some good things. I really actually enjoyed the book, surprising from all my complaints I know.... I thought that it was really interesting, and the fact that I was scared to read it before bed just shows how vivid the descriptions were in the book. I liked the fact that when there was a hard thing to explain (like the child with the head on a dog body) that there was a picture to show me what he was talking about. I have never seen a book that used actual pictures, which is what he did. Obviously they were altered and these were more than likely optical allusions... but still! So... if you are looking for a new book, that is very different and a page turner, this is one i would recommend!

BTW: I do not own the rights to any of these pictures... and thank God SOPA did not go through =)

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