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How Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children Differs From The Book

In 2016, director Tim Burton signed on to adapt the bestselling children's book "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs for the big screen. The fantasy film stars Asa Butterfield as Jake Portman, a teenage boy who has always been fascinated by his grandfather's tales of children at a strange home on Cairnholm, an island off the coast of Wales. After his grandfather's death, Jake ventures to find this mysterious place. Once he arrives, Jake meets Miss Peregrine, played by Eva Green, the caretaker of a group of children known as "Peculiars," who each have a unique paranormal ability.

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" was released in theaters on September 30, 2016, and got mixed reviews from critics. The movie currently has a positive 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the Critics Consensus declaring that the film "proves a suitable match for Burton's distinctive style, even if it's on stronger footing as a visual experience than a narrative one." The movie made almost $300 million worldwide, with a budget of about $110 million (Box Office Mojo).

With any book to movie adaptation, people are going to compare the two and nitpick any differences. While Burton managed to stay relatively faithful to the "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" book, there are a few key changes in the transition from novel to screen.

A changed Emma Bloom and other Peculiars

One of the most obvious changes in the film as compared to the original book is the character of Emma Bloom, played by Ella Purnell. In the novel, Emma is a pyrokinetic girl who developed her Peculiarity to create fire at the age of 10. With the film version, Emma is instead given the Peculiarity attributed to Olive in the book, making her lighter than air and requiring that Emma be tied or weighted down at all times. The film version of Olive (Lauren McCrostie) has Emma's pyrokinetic abilities instead. This change may seem simple at first glance, but it largely changes how Emma is presented on screen and some of the ways she interacts with Jake. Along with that, Emma's past with Jake's grandfather Abe, played by Terence Stamp in the movie, is explored more in the novels, as the two characters have a deep romantic history. 

The movie version also makes a few small differences with the other Peculiars, including shifts in age and physical appearance. With Olive and Enoch (Fin MacMillan), a boy who has the ability to re-animate the dead, the two develop a romantic relationship on screen, while they barely talk to each other in the novel. Instead it's Fiona, whose Peculiarity involves plants, and Hugh, who has a stomach full of bees, who are involved romantically in the book version of the story. In another intriguing change, the film actually further develops the strange twins and their story, revealing their Peculiarity as the ability to turn people and creatures to stone with a look, much like Medusa of Greek mythology. The two have a very minimal role in the novels, which never reveal their ability or much about their background. 

Tim Burton altered the story's villain

Similar to the tiny changes in the Peculiar characters, Burton shifted some other details around for his version of events. The most noticeable of these is Mr. Barron, played by Samuel L. Jackson. In the film, Barron is a wight, an unnatural creature who was formerly a Peculiar, created from inhuman experiments. Barron is a wight still able to use his Peculiarity to shapeshift and pose as various individuals, including the female psychologist named Dr. Golan who pushes Jake to head to Peregrine's home in Wales. When he is in his normal form, Barron has pure white eyes with black pinprick pupils, and long, sharp teeth. Other wights in the film have different abilities, such as creating and controlling ice. 

In the book, the same character is known as Dr. Golan, although Mr. Barron is an alias he uses at one point when he poses as Jake's middle school bus driver. Golan's real name is never found out. As for any powers beyond those of wights and Hallowgasts (called Hallows in the film), Golan does not retain his Peculiarity. The character in the novel version uses simple wit and ingenuity to create disguises and spy on Jake, such as wearing colored contact lenses. Another change worth noting is how Hallows consume Peculiars to become wights. In the novel, Hollowgasts eat Peculiars souls in order to transform into wights, while the movie changes this to eating eyes, a much more horrifying visual.

The final climax played out a little differently

The film version of "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" ramps up the climax to create more excitement, adding or changing various story elements. In the movie, Barron holds Jake hostage to force Peregrine to shift into her bird form, before kidnapping her and taking off. The story then continues to a carnival in Blackpool where the Peculiars chase Barron and the other wights around trying to rescue Peregrine. Eventually, Jake kills Baron, Peregrine is freed, and they all head off on a mission to find and stop all the other wights.

In the book, this all plays out a little differently. Jake, Emma, and a bunch of other Peculiar children are off fighting a Wight when Peregrine is kidnapped elsewhere by Golan. Thanks to Millard's invisibility, he is able to sneak after Golan and follow him to a lighthouse, where he and other wights attempts to escape the island with Peregrine and Miss Avocet. The other Peculiars follow and fight off Golan and his allies, with Jake killing Golan as he does in the film. Unfortunately for the kids, they are only able to rescue Peregrine, with the wights taking away Avocet. On top of that, Peregrine is stuck in her bird form and no one knows how to change her back. This sets up the story perfectly for the second book, "Hollow City," as the group heads off to learn how to revert the transformation.

Overall, the changes from Riggs' book to Burton's film version of "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" aren't too extensive, but they are noticeable, especially for fans of the books. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be plans for a sequel to the film — at least as far as we know, so fans aren't able to see how the rest of the books in the series might play out on screen.