Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel is a Keeper

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Miss_Peregrines_Home_For_Peculiar_Children_Graphic_novel_Ransom_riggs_Cassandra_JeanWhen I heard there was going to be a graphic novel version of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, I admit to wondering how well it would work: How would a graphic novel translate something that already relied heavily on graphics to work? How could drawings substitute for the vintage photos? I needn’t have worried. The graphic novel version is good in its own right, telling the story strongly as though it were always a graphic novel. Oh, and the vintage photos are still there.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a haunting tale of peculiars, people blessed with bizarre talents (keeping bees inside of them, invisibility, weightlessness, the ability to generate fire…) who have created a world apart for themselves. They are separated from the rest of the world both in time and space, living in a time loop in the 1940’s. Because they live out of time, they never grow any older—unless they leave for too long, in which case, they die. Into this world comes Jacob Portman, a young man who has, up until now, lived an entirely ordinary life. Now, he has to choose between the timeless world of the peculiars and the monsters who hunt them or his old life and parents, a life that may be dull but does have love.

Included in the book are the vintage photographs that inspired it, strange images of headless men sitting in front of mirrors, bee-covered boys, and floating girls, all deadpan and apparently serious and now reintroduced to the world as characters in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Cassandra Jean’s drawings interpret the characters well. They aren’t precise renderings of the photographs but are recognizably related. With shape, expression, and especially body language, she shows us Jacob’s initial ennui and his immediate attraction to the new world he has found. She also melds the snapshots and her artwork to create the world of the peculiars, and Riggs and she together create characters that hover between children and adults, people who are hundreds of years old but who have never really grown up.

Jean’s use of color to define worlds and moods is stellar: Color only comes to Jacob’s world when the peculiars are introduced, but the palette varies. In his initial introduction after being accepted by the children, the colors are soothing, green, blue, and hints of gold: The Home looks the paradise he imagines it is. Then, as the wights come, the world turns to black and white—or rather, grey and black—for a time before color returns, this time more somber.

Verdict? The graphic novel version of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a keeper. I recommend it to both people who have read the novel (it’s a new way to look at the story) and people who have not (it’s good).

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