I asked my library to purchase this book for me, and I am so grateful that they did. Sadly, it came in for me when I was in the mood for a comedic historical romance, which perhaps is why I didn’t find it as wonderful as I was hoping. (I thought about reviewing that book for you, too, but have decided against it.)
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier. Peter Nimble is a blind orphan. He was rescued as a baby from the ocean and the ravens who pecked out his eyes, but left to find his own way after that, in a city that felt somewhat Dickensian London. The way he found was thieving, and his blindness made him amazing. As an older child, he was discovered and kept locked up during the day to be let out and forced to do ever-bigger feats of thieving at night. This misery ends on the day that he picks his way through the crowd in front of a magician who calls himself the Haberdasher. Peter can smell that there is treasure in his carriage, pulled by zebras and locked up by complicated locks. When he retrieves the box, he finds that the treasure is three sets of eyes. The set he puts in takes him to an island owned by a scientist, Dr. Cake, who has made the eyes for Peter. Each will do one magical task, and it is up to Peter to figure out when in his upcoming quest to use them. Peter will be accompanied by Sir Tode, a knight cursed to be part man, part horse and part kitten. The quest is to rediscover a lost kingdom, one that fell off the map about ten years earlier. And then there is the quest, during which Peter meets thieves who act friendly, ravens who do not, adults who are too clean and quiet, and children who are too dirty and quieter yet, including the deposed Princess Peg. The ending is somewhat predictable, but the journey there is good fun with some interesting twists, and probably more fun for middle grade kids than for an old and jaded adult like myself.