The hero of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier has an indefatigable spirit. Practically from his birth, he has encountered obstacles at every turn. Still, he perseveres.
He does not know who his parents are. He has a dim recollection of birds pecking out his eyes; his blindness forced him to develop and pay attention to his other senses beyond the norm of sighted people. He survives on the streets through his keen awareness of what’s happening around him and by stealing food and other valuables for the exploitative Mr. Seamus. Yet Peter has not become hard-hearted. In fact he comes to the aid of another in distress, Sir Tode, a human-kitten-horse hybrid under a hag’s spell, and brings out the best in him. Sir Tode rises to bravery that he had hitherto run from in his human knight form.
This terrific book for boys and girls (a significant girl character comes along a bit later in the book) brims with action, magic, far-off lands, kings and queens. But it also deals with real-life challenges, such as blindness, hunger and poverty. The author treats those obstacles realistically but also shows readers that there’s a way out if, like Peter, you have an unflagging will to rise above your circumstances and seize the chance for a better life when it arrives.
Peter shares much in common with Harry Potter in that respect. Sometimes, when you persevere and the moment of opportunity presents itself, it can feel like magic.