Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier
|Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Peter is a blind orphan, and the greatest thief in the whole world. In the company of a magical creature—part cat, part horse and part knight—he embarks on a wondrous adventure which will demand every ounce of his courage and skill.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: January 2012|
|Publisher: Scholastic Children's Books|
|External links: [www.thescop.com Author's website]|
From the very beginning of this delightful book you are left in no doubt about the extraordinary and magical adventures you will experience with Peter Nimble and his friends. As a baby Peter is found floating in a basket across the sea. The magistrates give him a name, as the law requires, then leave him to fend for himself. He is raised for a while by a cat, then adopted by Mr Seamus, a beggarmonger who trains him to steal and beats him regularly to ensure he learns his lessons well.
Then one day in the course of his work Peter meets The Haberdasher, and steals from him a box containing three pairs of magical eyes. With the help of a zebra (what else?) these eyes lead him to the Troublesome Lake where he meets The Haberdasher once more, and he agrees to go on a quest prompted by a letter in a bottle. He then has several dramatic encounters, including thieves who have learned not be thirsty, and highly organised squadrons of ravens, before arriving at the Vanished Kingdom.
This book is a fairy tale which respects and enjoys all the traditional elements of the genre, and it is in no way diminished by that. It is perfectly clear who the bad guy is, although some of the other characters are a little ambiguous to start with, and despite all the dreadful things that happen to Peter and his friends the reader can feel confident that the right side (well, most of them) will win in the end. Readers are encouraged to guess aspects of the plot before they are revealed, and they will easily identify with a boy who has to learn to accept himself, criminal past and all, before he can achieve the success destiny has mapped out for him.
Fairy tales, of course, often contain scenes which are gruesome and bloodthirsty, and young readers will be delighted to know that there are plenty of these in this book. People are hauled away by the cruel apes and murdered within earshot, and the fate of a sparrow which gets caught can be deduced by looking at the next day's menu. But if the dark scenes cause the occasional shudder, this is more than balanced by the humour. The author cheerfully adds his own droll comments to the narrative when it suits him, and his whimsical flights of fancy are a real delight. The one-toothed thief is a source of envy to his gummy colleagues; orphans who crave a mother soon learn, to their disgust, that they come packaged with as many nags as cuddles, and misunderstandings about a fish hook almost lose Peter and his companions the final battle.
This book is quirky and traditional, funny and sad, exciting and satisfying. It is a charming tale, beautifully told, and will leave the reader longing for more.
If you'd like to read more extraordinary stories about orphans, try A Boy Called M.O.U.S.E by Penny Dolan or The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi. And if you fancy adding the Old West to the mix, you can't go wrong with The Western Mysteries: The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence.
You can read more book reviews or buy Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier at Amazon.com.
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