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Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes had my kids (and me) hooked from the first pages (or, rather, the first few minutes as we listened to the audiobook).

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes is the story of Peter, a blind orphan forced into a life of thievery by the cruel Mr. Shamus. But when Peter happens to steal a mysterious box of eyes, his life changes forever. He is given the opportunity to go on a quest, with his new friend Sir Tode, to find and save the Vanished Kingdom. Their only weapons are their wits and Peter’s magical, fantastic eyes. But Peter finds much more than the chance to become a hero. He finds friends, his true identity, and his home.

Possible Issues:

  1. There are some grisly descriptions in the book such as Peter being found as a baby with his eyes presumably plucked out by a raven. There are also some monstrous creatures and some battles.
  2. I had some trouble with the hero being a thief. However, his skills as a thief are actually necessary for him to be victorious as the hero! Here’s why I decided I was ok with Peter being a thief: 1) he was an orphan and not taught any better 2) he was taken advantage of and forced to be a thief (rather like a child slave) 3) he actually dislikes stealing from people and instinctively knows it’s wrong.
  3. My main issue with this story is that one of the good guys (not Peter) kills the villain when he is defenseless. Even though he deserved it, this seemed unnecessarily cruel.

Why I Loved It Anyway:

  1. Kids need books that show them what it means to be a hero, what it means to do the right thing in the midst of an impossible situation. Because they will face those situations in their lives, however much we wish we could protect them. It may not look like a blind boy trying to save a vanished kingdom, but it will feel just as intense. And I believe these kinds of stories can give our kids the emotional impetus to push through difficult situations without giving up. Peter Nimble shows bravery, values people, and does what is right even when it will cost him.
  2. Jonathan Auxier’s writing is, dare I say, Fantastic! He doesn’t shy away from vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to his readers. His descriptions are exquisite and his word-smithery is spot on. The foreshadowing he skillfully employs throughout the book will have your kids trying to guess what’s going on before Peter can. If you want your kids reading well-written books, this one belongs on the list.

I also highly recommend the audiobook version of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes read by Michael Page. We listened to it in the car, and my kids (and I) were spellbound. I took the long route more than once so we could listen longer.

 We’re also looking forward to the sequel, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard which comes out April 2016.

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Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

What books do you think inspire kids to do the right thing in challenging situations?