Just a short walk from home someone has organized a Little Free Library outside — the kind that looks like a large birdhouse, but has a door and a couple of shelves lined with books to share. We stopped by the other day to check it out and I was delighted to find a few interesting books to take home. One of them was titled Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I took Piper out with me to return it last night. It was so cold, despite our being bundled up. We’re usually pottering about the house that time at night, so in a way it was a little adventure. The moon was all black except a thin silver sliver of it, which cast the rest of it in a round shadow. The air felt crisp and fresh. It was early enough where we could still find people on their evening runs, while still others came in and out of their warmly lit houses. We returned the book in exchange for a few others — a lovely illustrated copy of Snow White and the Tales of Brer Rabbit, as well as a short work by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
About Miss Peregrine and her Peculiar Children, though. Once I finally got into the story, I didn’t want to put the book down. There’s a lot to love about this novel. To start, part of it takes place in Florida! Yay! I thought Riggs did a great job reflecting Florida’s quirky subcultures as seen through the eyes of an angsty teenage boy. There’s also vintage photography and time travel throughout the book. I’ll admit some of the photos frightened me, though really they are a neat addition to the story and I began looking forward to Riggs’ inclusion of them here and there. In short, the story is about a teenage boy who grew up with a grandfather who survived WWII by escaping Poland to live in a children’s home on Cairnholm Island off the coast of Wales. His grandfather tells him what he eventually comes to think of as tall tales about his childhood and the peculiar children he encountered at the home — one can create fire in the palm of her hand, the other has invisibility, still another has a mouth on the back of her head, etc. He tolerates these stories, once having believed in their magic but now seeing them as his grandfather’s own way of coping with the trauma he endured as a child; that is, until his grandfather dies and he sees something that makes him question his own understanding of reality. This is when he embarks on a quest to find out the truth about his grandfather’s life, and upon encountering the ruins of the children’s home he chases a girl through a bog and back in time, or into what Riggs calls a loop. In this loop, the peculiar children (who the main character finds out are truly gifted) live in safety from their pursuers as well as the progress of time, as each day their loop is reset just before a bomb that would otherwise destroy their home falls upon them and they begin the same day again anew. Great stuff, right? I think a movie based on the book is due out sometime this year.
Well, I think it’s time for me to begin cooking dinner. I hope to have another opportunity to write soon!
Have you read any good books lately? Does your neighborhood have a Little Free Library or book share?