Friday, April 10, 2015

MG Fantasy Adventure: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

10806008Published: December 11th, 2011 by Amulet Books
Genres: Middle Grade Fantasy Adventure
Pages: 404 pages
Format: Ebook
Source: Public Library

Last year I read The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, I remembered enjoying his ability to tell a good creepy story.  With Spring break approaching, I perused for some ebooks and found this one.  A few clicks later and voila, reading material complete.   I loved the cover with Peter up on the rooftops carrying his burgle bag over his shoulder.  Even the details of the keyhole in his name.  

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes begins with a basket bobbing next to a ship with a small baby inside.  This little baby with no name was left with nothing but a large raven on his head, which quite possibly was the one responsible for pecking out his eyes and rendering him blind.  Having some pity on him, the sailors took him to a neighboring town.  Things don't  go smoothly in town,  for they leave him all alone to fend for himself.

"Now, for those of you who know anything about blind children, you are aware that they make the very best thieves. As you can well imagine, blind children have incredible senses of smell, and they can tell what lies behind a locked door- be it fine cloth, gold, or peanut brittle- at fifty paces. Moreover, their fingers are so small and nimble that they can slip right through keyholes, and their ears so keen that they can hear the faint clicks and clacks of every moving part inside even the most complicated lock. Of course, the age of great thievery has long since passed;today there are few child-thieves left, blind or otherwise. At one time, however, the world was simply thick with them. This is the story of the greatest thief who ever lived. His name, as you've probably guessed, is Peter Nimble."

Okay, so right off that beginning grabs me.  I'm thinking Oliver Twist, young pickpocket.  Makes for a very interesting beginning.   The story jumps ahead to Peter at the age of ten stealing for Mr. Seamus, a man who at first appears to befriend him, but truthfully only takes advantage of Peter's abilities for his own gain.  One day when Peter is on his daily chore of stealing for Mr. Seamus, he stumbles upon a haberdasher with a mysterious carriage filled with intricate locks, Peter can't resist trying to find out what is inside.  He finds and steals a box with three pairs of magical eyes.   The first pair transports him to an island where he meets Professor Cake and Sir Tode, a knight who was transformed into part horse and cat. Professor Cake finds a mysterious riddle in a bottle that alludes to a Vanished Kingdom and its people, who are desperately in need of rescuing.  Peter and Sir Tode decide to embark on a quest to provide assistance.

The pace of the story moves along pretty quickly, especially when they set sail on the high seas.  Soon they make their way to the island of "Just Deserts," encounter thieves, ravens, a monstrous king that has enslaved the kingdom and a task to try and help the people.  It's a fast paced adventure filled with many battles, and quite a few deaths, best to be prepared for it (we are talking scenes like knives being thrown in your back, someone pecked to pieces, but nothing to graphic or sinister.)   Auxier does not hold back any of the action and I defiantly enjoyed the plot.  

I also liked Peter, he is a pretty trusting fellow,  which lands him in being deceived pretty easily.  Being blind, he often misses some of the subtleties of what people are saying as well as their motivations.  Sir Tode acts as Peter's eyes,  yet Peter takes him for granted and sometimes is overly confident.  Having only himself to think about for so many years, when danger arises, he goes into a self preservation mode.   Not to say that Peter isn't likable, just that his character grows throughout the quest as he comes to realize his mistakes.  I really liked Sir Tode, he is so eager to have Peter as his friend.  Their friendship becomes stronger as they come to trust and rely on each other.  I also loved how Sir Tode overcomes his own fears and defeats his monster to earn his title.  Sir Tode learns that "There are times when Justice demands from us more than we would give."  Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes was a wonderful story with a sort of a classic feel to it, with hints of Peter Pan and Oliver Twist.   Auxier even  states in the acknowledgments that he "snatched inspiration from countless other worlds, characters and books.."   Overall a very enjoyable read.   

Favorite line: 
"The safest flea is on the mutt's noggin."  

24795920Coming in January 2016, it looks like there will be another adventure for Peter.
From Goodreads:  "It’s been two years since Peter Nimble and Sir Tode rescued the kingdom of HazelPort. In that time, they have traveled far and wide in search of adventure. Now Peter and Sir Tode have been summoned by Professor Cake for a new mission: find a 12-year-old girl named Sophie Quire. Sophie knows little beyond the four walls of her father’s bookshop, where she works as a bookmender and dreams of leaving the confines of her city walls. But when a strange boy and his talking cat/horse companion show up searching for a rare and mysterious book, she finds herself pulled into an adventure beyond anything she has ever read."

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