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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-07-04
- Reviewer: Staff
Debut author Auxier spins a lively, magical adventure led by 10-year-old Peter Nimble, a blind orphan and "the greatest thief who ever lived." Peter has always had to fend for himself, and after five grueling years of working for a heartless beggarmonger and perfecting his burgling skills, he uncovers a box filled with three sets of stone eyes: gold, onyx, and emerald. The first set transports him to a hidden island where the psychic Professor Cake awaits. The professor provides Peter with a companion (Sir Tode, a half-cat, half-horse knight) and a mission: to solve a riddle and save the Vanished Kingdom from an evil king. Peter and Sir Tode set sail unarmed, aside from their kind natures, faith that the eyes will guide them, and Peter's skill at picking locks ("He considered every lock to be a personal challenge. By definition, locks are designed to tell you what you can't do"). At times the omniscient narrator can feel overly precious, but the fast-paced, episodic story, accompanied by Auxier's occasional pen-and-ink drawings, is inventive, unpredictable, and—like its hero—nimble. Ages 10–up. (Aug.)
An exciting story of destiny
Imagine the characteristics of a good thief: He would need to be a child (to fit in small spaces, and pick locks with small fingers); an orphan (so that no one would miss him); and blind (so that his senses of smell and touch far exceed those of anyone else). In Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, the exciting debut novel by Jonathan Auxier, Peter is all of these things, and much more. In fact, he is the greatest thief who has ever lived, and that is what changed his life forever.
Peter begins his thievery under the guidance of the despicable Mr. Seamus. Every night, Peter is sent out into the town to steal from its residents, and to bring everything he has taken to Mr. Seamus. This all changes when Peter decides to steal a beautiful box from the Haberdasher who has just arrived in town. In the box are three sets of fantastic eyes—eyes of gold, onyx and emerald—which transport Peter to a fantastic new world.
Auxier has written a stunning novel, one that transports not just Peter Nimble, but the reader as well, to the Troublesome Lake, where every ocean in the world eventually ends; to the Just Deserts, where troublemakers spend and end their lives with the King’s Ravens; to the Vanished Kingdom, where an evil king holds a nation hostage, and a brave Princess Peg waits for their hero to return.
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes is, at first glance, a fast-paced, exciting adventure story. It is also much more. It is a story of friendship and loyalty between Peter and his companion Sir Tode, a knight who has been hexed into a regrettable cominbation of horse and cat. It is a story of strength, as Princess Peg cares for and leads the children she has rescued from the diabolical king. It is, finally, and most importantly, a story of destiny, as Peter comes to discover that what he is—a poor, dirty orphan—is not who he was meant to be.
READ MORE: In a Q&A author Jonathan Auxier explains why he considers Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes to be "a sort of anthem to delinquency."