Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

by

Ransom Riggs

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Ransom Riggs's Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Ransom Riggs

Ransom Riggs was born on a farm in Maryland before growing up in Englewood, Florida. As a child, he attended Pine View School for the Gifted and began writing stories by hand on legal pads and an old typewriter. He also became interested in photography and film. He went on to study English literature at Kenyon College and film at the University of Southern California. After graduating, Riggs worked on short films while writing for the online magazine Mental Floss. He then wrote The Sherlock Holmes Handbook in conjunction with the release of the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film. Because of his passion for found photography, Riggs began writing a book using curious vintage photographs as a guide for his plot, resulting in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2011). Riggs ultimately published six books in the series, with the final installment released in 2021. Riggs also married author Tahereh Mafi in 2013 and had a daughter in 2017; they currently live in Irvine, California.
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Historical Context of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Abe’s childhood takes place in the context of World War II’s outbreak in Europe. Poland, where Abe grew up, was the first country invaded by the Nazis on September 1, 1939, and it fared worst in Hitler’s campaign to exterminate all Jews. The book describes how Abe—who was Jewish—was the only member of his family to escape Poland before the invasion because his parents put him on a train to Britain, and he is the only member of his family to survive World War II. Abe’s story reflects the reality that over 90 percent of Poland’s Jewish population was killed in the Holocaust. Additionally, the book touches on Britain’s conflict with Germany in the war. The date of the bombing in the book’s setting—Cairnholm Island—is September 3, 1940. This connects to the prolonged bombing campaign called the Blitz, in which Nazi Germany dropped bombs on London and other military sites across Britain; the campaign lasted from September 1940 to May 1941. While Cairnholm is fictional, it could be inspired by the Gower Peninsula in Wales, where several military sites and manufacturing plants were a prime target for German bombing during the war.

Other Books Related to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

In interviews, Riggs has spoken about Ralph Waldo Emerson’s works Self-Reliance and Nature as being highly influential to the book’s philosophy. He particularly cites Emerson’s quote, “The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.” This applies to Jacob’s own journey of discovering his peculiar talent and his capacity for bravery and confidence. Emerson’s writing features in the book directly in the epigraph and when Abe directs Jacob to find a letter in a copy of Emerson’s selected works. Riggs also cites The Likes of Us and Barnardo Boy—two works that examine British orphanages in the early 20th century—as providing helpful context for Miss Peregrine’s home. Additionally, Miss Peregrine’s exists in a long lineage of young adult fantasy novels in which children experience fantastical or supernatural things which foster their coming of age. Older books in this vein include Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series. Often these magical worlds mirror or expose difficult truths about the real world as well, particularly in contemporary young adult fiction. More recent examples include Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, Eden Robinson’s Son of a Trickster, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and John Connelly’s The Book of Lost Things.
Key Facts about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  • Full Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  • When Written: 2008-2011
  • Where Written: Los Angeles, California
  • When Published: June 7, 2011
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
  • Setting: Sarasota, Florida, present day; Cairnholm, Wales, present day and 1940
  • Climax: Jacob leaves Cairnholm with the other peculiar children.
  • Antagonist: Hollowgast, Wights
  • Point of View: First person

Extra Credit for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Picture Perfect. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was originally intended to be a picture book, but Riggs’s editor advised him to use his found photographs as the basis for a full narrative.

Bizarre on the Big Screen. The book was adapted into a film in 2016, directed by Tim Burton and starring Asa Butterfield as Jacob and Eva Green as Miss Peregrine.