Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
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Jonathan Auxier
ISBN 9781419700255
Abrams/Amulet, 2011.
4 ½ stars
Keywords: adventure fantasy friendship jonathan-auxier peter-nimble-and-his-fantastic-eyes

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
by Jonathan Auxier

Anything can happen in debut author Jonathan Auxier’s fantastical world. The 10-year-old hero, discovered as a baby bobbing in a basket, and named by some magistrates “after a misremembered nursery rhyme,” overcomes many challenges—including blindness and abject poverty—to earn the title “the greatest thief who ever lived.” The captivating omniscient narrator remains mindful of Peter’s handicap while extolling the virtues of the hero’s highly attuned remaining four senses. He paints Peter as a boy who must steal in order to survive, but who also possesses a heart of gold.

The turning point occurs when Peter meets a haberdasher who can read his mind, and who plants a box containing the “fantastic eyes” of the title, knowing Peter will find them. Each pair of eyes possesses a magical trait that leads to a series of farflung adventures, including a chance meeting with Sir Tode, a human-kitten-horse hybrid under a hag’s spell, a desert full of thieves, a vanished kingdom, a giant dogfish named Good Ol’ Frederick who helps defeat a school of sea serpents, ravens that could be good or evil, and talking apes on a Night Patrol that chain up children as slaves—among them a princess. Auxier ties them all together so that none feels extraneous or (too) over-the top. Amongst the humor and battle scenes, he also raises some searching questions, such as whether modern reason has overridden the ancient need for magic, and what qualities define a true hero. Kids will root for Peter and hope for his return.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

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