This novel follows the adventures of a young man who is in denial about his own extraordinary powers until he is set in the midst of other children who possess equally amazing talents. No, he's not Harry Potter. He's Jacob Portman, and he sees monsters. Jacob's formative years were spent listening to his grandfather, Abraham Portman, tell fantastic accounts of his youth spent in a children's home in Wales where he was sent alone from his home in Poland. He even has bizarre, old photographs of the strange inhabitants of the institution. As Jacob ages he begins to regard these stories as tall tales, but, in the back of his mind, is always the question, “Are they really?”
Abraham's murder sends Jacob into a deep depression, and to release him from it, his parents agree that, accompanied by his father, Jacob can travel to Wales and visit the home where his grandfather was raised. He finds that the site itself was bombed in the war, and little remains. In fact, the place is downright scary. Jacob, however, manages to connect with Emma (whose talent is controlling fire), and she lets him into a World War II time loop when the home is still occupied by Miss Peregrine and the“Peculiars,” as the children are called. Jacob finds that his grandfather (whose talent Jacob inherited) was fleeing Hitler's death squads. Getting rid of Jews, Gypsies and other people who did not conform to the Nazi idea was Hitler's aim, and children who could lift boulders with one hand, remain invisible and grow bees internally certainly fit into that category.
As if the fear of bombing wasn't enough, some rogue Peculiars are determined to finish off Miss Peregrine and the children. Jacob has to save them as well as decide whether to return to life as we know it (Remember, he's in a 1940's time loop.) or stay with those with whom he feels kinship. Jacob is only sixteen, but it's time to make so grown-up choices.
The plot keeps the reader wanting more, but the unique addition to this story is the collection of vintage photographs of the Peculiars! Really! There is a girl who is levitating, a boy whose head is invisible and many others. It doesn't matter by what trickery they were taken; they bring the children and their fantasy to life.
To learn more about this and other books, visit the Boulder City Library at 701 Adams Boulevard, 293-1281, www.bouldercitylibrary.org