- Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
For a ten-year-old, Peter is remarkably good at being a thief. It seems to come naturally to him, although the threat of beatings if he doesn’t deliver stolen goods is also strong motivation. All changes, however, when Peter steals a box containing three pairs of magical eyes; it is quite the find for a boy who has been blind since infancy, and he is keen to experiment with them. Even bold Peter, however, isn’t prepared for cursed castles, dead royalty, sand pirates, and enslaved children; fortunately, he remains unfazed, despite the odds against the partnership of one blind kid and one horse/cat/knight triumphing against a tyrant king and his massive talking-ape army. While Peter joins the ranks of literary children who are raised in horrific circumstances (no education, no love, forced to untie his own knots after being thrown in the river in a sack to drown as a baby) but miraculously turn out to be noble, well-informed, and amiable, he is aided in his quest by one of the most delightfully ridiculous sidekicks imaginable, and the tiny, irascible Sir Tode does much to keep the tone comfortably balanced between sweeping, heroic journey and madcap bumbling rescue. The lightning-fast pace and terrifically engaging protagonists (indeed, even fairly minor characters, like the zombie-esque brainwashed parents, are memorable) make this an ideal suggestion for reluctant readers and young fantasy fans. It is a touch disappointing that Peter regains his vision after all [End Page 69] of the strong messages about children with physical disabilities being able to save the world just as well as anyone, but this plot development is at least well-integrated and explained carefully, and Peter is shown to be quite content—and definitely heroic—with or without sight.