Monday, November 14, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

About The Book: "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." --Goodreads

First Line: "Now, for those of you who know anything about blind children, you are aware that they make he very best thieves."

Awesome Description: "His voice had a cobwebby quality, and he smelled of stale gingerbread" (49).

Cover: Auxier has illustrated his own cover and chapter headings. Crisp lines are what I love about his work.  See more on his website.
Correction: Cover was created by Gilbert Ford: 

What Others Are Saying:  "Even kids who read widely and suspect from the beginning that blind, orphaned Peter Nimble is destined for great things will be caught up in the suspenseful doings and surprise twists. And this book may well convert those who don't consider themselves readers." -Shelf Awareness

"While the mystery of Peter’s past is all too easy to solve, the path he takes to reach his destiny has many unexpected twists and surprising turns. The book’s quirky nature, distinctive plot, and fresh themes will draw young readers in and spark their imaginations, earning it a place on the shelf for re-readings." -Quill and Quire

What I Thought: Words are magical. Arranged in the perfect combination they can illicit vivid images across our mind-stage. Since Peter is blind this presents an interesting challenge for Auxier in spite of the omnipotent point of view the story is told. He was forced to find words that were more than visual since those are what Peter relies on. To readers this means descriptions steeped in sensory details. Auxier is adept at creating unique worlds and characters. What could be more creative than a knight that was half cat, half horse? Probably suited to upper middle grade or younger readers who's skill is up to the task. This is a great read-aloud. 

Author: Jonathan Auxier

Author's Website/ Blog: The Scop
Book Website: Peter Nimble

Who:Born in Vancouver, Canada, he obtained his MFA in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon University. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, a lecturer in Victorian children's literature. PETER NIMBLE AND HIS FANTASTIC EYES is his first novel.

When: "I’ve been working as a professional storyteller for a few years now. By “professional,” I mean I’ve been lucky enough to pay my bills through writing, if just barely. During that time, I’ve written everything from plays to screenplays to commercials to comics. A few years back, I found myself growing frustrated by the “hired gun” aspect of the entertainment industry. Most of the time, you’re working with someone else’s story ideas -- and even if those ideas are brilliant, they aren’t yours. Screenwriter Javier Grillo-Marxauch once described this to me as “marching in someone else’s army,” which I’ve always liked. Some writers really enjoy that collaborative spirit, but I’m not one of them. I think when I know something isn’t 100% mine, I subconsciously hold back."    -Literary Asylum

What: "Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes takes place in a moment of history when the lines between magic and science were being blurred. Strange, exotic lands were being discovered and becoming known—but with that comes a loss of mystery. The central metaphor in the book is that of a half-finished map: the moment a new island or country gets charted by cartographers, it becomes reduced in some indefinable way . . . and that's sad. In the story, I wanted to take that map metaphor and make it literal. So when Peter Nimble sets out for uncharted waters, he finds himself in a place where the rules of logic and science still don't apply—a place where the impossible is still possible." -Bookpage

Why: "The first is that I already knew I wanted to be a writer. I studied playwriting in undergraduate and graduate school. It was actually when I was in the middle of a playwriting program and I was really struggling — in part because I was trying to write for the approval of other people: friends, advisers, or all of these other people, and I kept on trying to tell stories that I thought they would like." -Wordstock

How: "I know a lot of writers came out of the womb with a half-finished manuscript in hand, but that wasn't me. My mother was a painter, and I grew up taking advantage of all the amazing (and dangerous) art supplies in our house. I drew constantly. Even now, every story I write begins with a picture. In the case of Peter Nimble, it all started with the image that you see at the top of the first chapter: a baby floating in a basket with a raven perched on the edge that has just pecked out his eyes." -Bookpage

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  1. Love this cover. And I"m really hoping my library's copy comes in soon!

  2. I'm dying to read this. I was sorry I couldn't read the book before my interview of Jonathan.

  3. This was a good book. I loved the magical elements in this book and of course, Peter. Who can resist a blind thief?

  4. *screams from the top of my lungs* I WANT THIS BOOK SO BAD.
    Seriously, I can't believe it's taking me forever to make my way to it, but one day I shall get my hands on this lovely. <3

  5. This has been on my TBR stack for a while now.

    I love how every story Jonathan writes begins with a picture.

    Great review, Pam!

  6. Of all the books my kids and I have read aloud together, this is one of our very favorites. We laughed, cheered, and sat on the edges of our seats. Loved (LOVED) it.

  7. I love the sound of this. "Peter Nimble" - what a great title, makes me think of Dickens.

  8. I've heard so much about this book. I'm pouncing on it as soon as my Cybils reading marathon is done. (But I won't be reviewing it, as you've already done such a great job in your review, Pam.)

  9. I hadn't heard of this. Thanks for the review!

  10. Pam,
    I'm thrilled to hear you enjoyed the book! I especially like your term "mind-stage," which is much more succinct and elegant than "Um, you know that little TV show inside your head?" (how I usually describe it). Thank you for the wonderful writeup!


  11. Oops! I forgot to mention -- I didn't actually draw the cover. That was done by the amazing Gilbert Ford:


  12. I've been looking forward to Peter Nimble since the moment I came across Jonathan Auxier's website, The Scop. The site is simple, the sketches are fun and that might be the best "about me' section I've ever come across. So to hear Jonathan was publishing his first middle-grade this fall, literally made me giddy.


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