How does Riggs incorporate photographs into this novel? Why are they important?
Because these are real, vintage photographs that Riggs found prior to writing the book, the photographs ground this fantasy novel in the reality that we all recognize, while still preserving its magical, fantastical elements. These are photos we might see every day, except with something a little strange about them—similar to the peculiar children themselves, who resemble common children in all ways except for their special abilities. Seeing these photographs in the text also better allows readers to put themselves in Jacob's shoes, as he uncovers and interprets each on in turn.
Is the search of the wights and hollows for immortality truly inherently wrong? Why or why not?
The novel attempts to draw a clear line between good and evil—the wights and hollows and everything they pursue are evil, while Jacob, Miss Peregrine, and her wards are the good forces attempting to fight this evil off. The reality, though, is more complicated than that. Is it truly wrong to want immortality? Not necessarily, but this novel's message makes it clear that what is wrong is their greed, their desire to mess with the natural order of things solely for personal reasons. It is greed that drives them to reach beyond limits and covet what they are not meant to have, and the implications of such greed is why they must be stopped.
Does Jacob transform over the course of the novel? How?
By the end of the novel, Jacob becomes much more comfortable with himself and his place in the world. He began the novel as a loner, alienated by those around him who believed he was crazy. Early on he lost his grandfather, the only person with whom he had a strong connection before coming to Cairnholm. When he entered the loop, he finally felt like he belonged somewhere, and developed a new sense of confidence and purpose that drove him to be a leader among his friends.
What role does Miss Peregrine play in the lives of the peculiar children?
For the peculiar children, Miss Peregrine is both a teacher figure and a mother figure. She ensures that they learn everything they need—manners, book smarts, and life skills—to fully function as individuals, even though they are in the time loop and have not aged in seventy years. She is also a mother to them, protecting them and shielding them from any harm that might befall them in the outside world. Miss Peregrine is the glue that holds the children's home together, which is why her eventual kidnapping disturbs them so much.
In what ways was Jacob's relationship with Grandpa Portman different from his father's relationship with him?
Jacob and Grandpa Portman shared a special connection, and this stems from the fact that even as Jacob grew older, he still hung on to the stories that his grandfather told him. Conversely, Jacob's father shut himself off to Grandpa Portman's stories and tales when he was younger after feeling like Grandpa Portman was not showing him the love that a father ought to show his son. Grandpa Portman was more of a father figure to Jacob than he was to his own son, which stems from the fact that he had not been truly ready to have a family again until Jacob came along.
Why was it necessary that Grandpa Portman die at the beginning of the novel? Would the story have been the same if he had survived?
Grandpa Portman's death, though tragic, was the catalyst that Jacob needed to start believing his grandfather's stories and go in search of the truth at last. Had Grandpa Portman survived, Jacob likely would have gone on believing that his grandfather's stories were imagined and that he was going senile in his old age. The journey that Grandpa Portman's death led to was important not only because it uncovered the truth, but also because it brought Jacob to a group of people that made him truly feel at home for the first time in his life.
How do Jacob and Emma experience tension between the past and present in their relationship?
Though Emma and Jacob clearly have feelings for each other, it is difficult for them to forget the events of the past that affect their present situation. Jacob is unsure for a long time whether Emma actually likes him, or whether he is just a stand-in for Grandpa Abe, who she was waiting for in vain for so long. Emma, too, struggles with this, but eventually the two are able to put the tensions of the past behind them and live in the present moment.
Discuss the author's choice of setting. Why place the children's home on such a small, sparsely populated island?
Aside from the fact that the setting helps to keep the peculiar children isolated and secret, tiny Cairnholm allows Jacob to find his footing there quickly and develop relationships with everyone else on the island. Its isolation from the rest of the world—there is only one phone on the entire island—means that Jacob can push away his life back in the US and focus solely on his mission while on the island, which is discovering as much about his grandfather and the world he came from as he possibly can.
How does this novel fit the mold of a typical heroic quest story?
In the quest stories that make up much of classic literature, a hero will undertake a complex journey and, in the process, transform himself in some way. Though Jacob is not a typical hero, he does exactly this, setting out with the aim of discovering some hidden knowledge and taking a literal journey to Cairnholm, Wales. Like any hero, he is pushed far beyond his comfort zone and faces numerous enemies that he manages to overcome, at least for the time being. The end of the story makes it clear that Jacob, our hero, still has many more journeys to set out on, indicating that the quest story will continue in sequels.
How is the physical house that the peculiar children live in a character in itself?
As soon as Jacob sees the house, abandoned in his own time, he characterizes it with descriptions typically reserved for living things. In the present-day, the house is imposing and reserved, keeping hidden all the secrets of its past. Inside the loop though, the house is lively and full of excitement, feeding off the energy of the children it keeps within. In many ways, the house is a protective figure for the children, guarding them from the horrors of the outside world the same way Miss Peregrine herself does.