I had the fantastic good fortune to win an ARC of this book a few weeks ago from the author, Jonathan Auxier. I also won a t-shirt (note to self, add t-shirts to marketing ideas).
je ne sais quoi. (Did I just use French in this review???)
This is Jonathan Auxier's first novel. Though, from what I've read of his background, he's a screenwriter and journalist. I think he's found his calling in Middle Grade novelist.
The voice has a little bit of a Lemony Snicket snark (pulling the reader in through a second person "speaking to the camera" style). I also love that the setting is sort of a 19th century London, though the town is never specified.
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.
This synopsis from Goodreads gives you a little hint of the voice.
As you can probably already guess, I loved this book. I loved the character of Peter, with the combination of awesome thieving talent and his little boy naivety. Peter's friend, Sir Tode, is the most unusual sidekick I've ever seen--he's part horse, part kitten, and part knight. It gives him some unusual skills as well as some very difficult challenges (try sailing a ship with hooves when you're the size of a kitten).
There are some relatively violent scenes--I'd put this book firmly in the 10+ Middle Grade range (or younger if you think your child can handle some warring apes, plucky ravens, and homicidal brainwashed adults. Be prepared, creatures die.)
If you want something different, a great adventure, or a book for reluctant readers (boys and girls), I'd highly recommend PETER NIMBLE AND HIS FANTASTIC EYES by Jonathan Auxier.
I've had the pleasure of interviewing the author--stay tuned for that interview coming up this week or next.