February 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Celebrating the Peculiar: Program Ideas in Advance of “Miss Peregrine” Film

Are your copies of Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children all checked out with a holds list like mine are? It’s that time of year that teens are slanting toward the eerie and unusual, and the upcoming release of the movie based on the bestseller is drawing lots of attention to Jacob and the Peculiars he encounters. Build on that excitement with programs that encourage engagement, let teens delve into interesting photographic projects, or embrace the peculiar in themselves with these projects.

Self-directed programs

Movie predictions

One of the simplest yet most striking methods of engagement ahead of a big release is to encourage library visitors to make predictions. Hang a large sheet of paper in a prominent location and attach some pencils or markers to strings that hang nearby. On each sheet, ask a provocative question:

  • “What will the movie version of Miss Peregrine’s Home get wrong?”
  • “Which scene is going to make you hide your eyes?”
  • “Which character are you most excited to see on the big screen?”

Ask your regulars to seed the sheets with their answers and then sit back and enjoy the engagement!

Creepy captions

Myrtle Jamieson’s ideas were known to spring directly from her head, as visible and scalding as clouds of steam from a tea kettle. Photo credit: Matthew Brady Studio, Library of Congress Daguerreotype collection http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004664139/]

“Myrtle Jamieson’s ideas were known to spring directly from her head, as visible and scalding as clouds of steam from a tea kettle.” Photo by Matthew Brady Studio, Library of Congress Daguerreotype collection

This could work as either a contest or as a simple way of engaging young adults in your space. Find pictures that leave you scratching your head in discarded magazines or by browsing photos on Pinterest. They could all be old-fashioned-looking like those of the Peculiars, recent ones of celebrities, or childhood photos of teen staff members. Use a variety of sources. Mount them on a bulletin board or “Wall of Peculiars” and invite teens to caption them with an explanation of each talent, skill, or oddity that the people possess. Bump up the curiosity factor and connect this activity to real history by pulling items from the Library Of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog or your own local history collection. Then, after the captioning period ends, reveal the actual origin of each image with a little bit of context.

Eerie Art programs

Lost and found

The author’s own fascination with found art helped inspire the book series. Build on the curiosity about the history of found objects in a Lost and Found art program. Collect old photographs, post cards, and other grandma’s-attic treasures, and provide teens with additional art supplies, such as card stock, discarded books, markers, paints, small cardboard boxes, beads, or sewing supplies. Encourage them to find inspiration in the items and get creative in how they remix them into their own found art masterpieces. Bring out books of outsider art or issues of Found magazine to help jumpstart their own ideas.

Photo manipulation

halloween pic 3Your teens are no strangers to filters and photographic manipulation techniques. This is a great opportunity to marry their affection for Snapchat filters with the creepiness of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiars. Load apps like Photo Blender for Android or Fused for iOS onto library devices, or make it a BYO (Bring your own) Device program. Scope out some great spots for backdrops in and around the library ahead of time, and be sure to have flashlights, battery powered candles, or other interesting lighting options on hand for patrons to experiment with.


Photo shrink jewelry

Wearable art

Wearing your favorite book-inspired art is a great way for bibliophiles to start conversations and gush about what’s closest to their hearts. Create photo pendants to wear by printing directly onto Shrinky Dink film from your inkjet printer, or trace over photographs to transfer them to the film. Karen Jensen of “Teen Librarian Toolbox” details this technique on the blog. Teens could use their own creepy photo art or manipulated images from the books as the basis for this process or get creative with their own ideas.


Embroidery embellishments


Karen Hartmann of the Hennepin County (MN) Library embroidered directly onto an antique photo.

If your teens like the caption activity, this will be right up their alley too. Karen Hartmann of the Hennepin County (MN) Library embroidered directly onto an antique photo imagining this little girl’s piercing stare to be more powerful than one might suspect.

Collect or print antique or otherwise attention-grabbing photos. If you are printing the photos or finding them in magazines or newspapers, you may want to adhere them to light cardstock to provide a stronger backing. Share the basics of embroidery stitches with your students, then invite them to imagine what they might not be seeing in the photos, then stitch it right onto the pictures for an arresting multimedia piece.

Special presenters


For teens who are especially interested in the photography element, consider bringing in a professional art photographer to talk about their work, field questions, and offer advice about careers in the arts, or even give a mini-class on specific techniques that participants can learn and use in their own photography.

Digital darkroom gurus

Have a computer lab or training room? Host an expert to guide young adults through the basics—or not so basics—of a photo editing program. Even if your library doesn’t have the space for a hands-on workshop, a demonstration program projected on a screen would give teens a taste of what these software packages can do, and hopefully entice them to learn more.

Embracing the peculiar

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was,” the series protagonist says in the first volume. As the Peculiars embrace and take pride in their unique talents, and Jacob begins to understand a new way of looking at the world, consider how these themes of empowerment and a fresh perspective can be enacted in the lives of your teens. Host a life coach, social worker, or inspirational speaker who can help teens understand their individuality and strengths.


Are you hosting any Peculiar programs in advance of the film? Share your ideas, photos, and program suggestions below.



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  1. Martha Hickson says:

    I’m running a “Peculiar Power” contest, in which kids identify the trait, talent, or experience that makes them unique. The idea is to help kids put a positive spin on being different. The first 25 entrants will get a “Proud to be Peculiar” button that I designed and made on our new button-maker. The winner (selected at random from all entries) will receive a “peculiar” prize package of creepy items from the party store and a gift card.