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Amy's Eyes by Richard Kennedy

Amy's Eyes (edition 1985)

by Richard Kennedy

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132491,104 (4.33)4
Title:Amy's Eyes
Authors:Richard Kennedy
Info:HarperCollins (1985), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 437 pages
Collections:My Library, Read in 2009
Tags:Children's/YA Fiction, Fantasy

Work details

Amy's Eyes by Richard Kennedy

  1. 00
    Abel's Island by William Steig (betterthanchocolate)
    betterthanchocolate: A similar combination of elegant prose and anthropomorphic adventure.

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Halfway through and I think this is one I'm going to want to buy for my permanent collection - even though I really don't like to hang onto books.


Yup. A perfect fantasy for all ages from 8 to 108. Beautifully, poetically written. Dolls, orphans, intrigue, romance, pirates, treasure, adventure, magic, mystery, dreams, brewed to enchant. Since I don't think my husband would like it (unless maybe he were reading it aloud to his grandkids) I can't give it the full 5 stars - but I do wish I'd owned a copy when I as a child as I would have read it over & over & over again. It's got the hallmarks of a classic children's fantasy, but was unbelievably written only 3 decades ago.

For example, one of the special things about it is that it can be read on so many levels. For example: Not all 8 year-olds are going to understand Skivvy's anguish, but even though I couldn't personally empathize, I ached for him as he tried to use numerology to save his soul. But as Kennedy explains, though Mathematics is the Queen of Sciences, Numerology is her wayward daughter, a wanton who will lure you with her easy ways until your mind is ruined and your life's course doomed. A child too young to understand the details of that will just skim until the next bit of adventure, but when she gets a little older and understands, the book will mean all the more to her.

That's just one example. But this would be a wonderful book to read aloud as a family and talk about, too, so I really recommend you do that for your school-age children. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
In Amy's Eyes dolls come to life, and people turn into dolls. When the story begins, Amy is a lonely orphan who finds comfort in her sailor doll, talking and reading to him constantly. One day she accidentally discovers the secret that will bring him to life, and being a sailor he goes off to sea. Amy pines away for him so much that when he returns, the sailor finds that Amy has herself become a doll. He takes her away with him on a pirate adventure, searching for gold treasure at the bottom of the ocean. Amy's Eyes is a wonderfully imaginative story, peopled with unforgettable characters. The ship's crew is made up of toy animals brought to life, with a few exceptions- one being the first mate Skivvy, who was a doll made of long underwear turned into a man. The animals were read Mother Goose in their bringing-to-life process, whereas Skivvy was read the Bible. So while the animals' heads are full of nursery rhymes, Skivvy contorts his mind over Book of Revelation prophecies and the arts of numerology. There's a lot of speculation in the story over the meaning of life and other deep questions. Add to that an enemy pirate ship, a witch aboard, threats of mutiny (from a rubber duck!) and a slowly-unraveling mystery, and you have one of the most engaging and entertaining stories I read in my entire childhood. It's beautifully written, too.

from the DogEar Diary ( )
  jeane | Oct 15, 2009 |
Amy's Eyes is a book I read in childhood and have always remembered. The details of the plot didn't stay with me, but there was one image — of the doll Amy's button eyes being lowered into the sea in a bottle so she could look for the treasure — that has stayed with me.

The story is about a young girl, Amy, who was left in an orphanage by her father. He left nothing with her except a note with her name and a sailor doll he had made. Amy grows up loving that doll like it is a person. She talks to it, reads to it, and spends all her time with it. One day the sailor doll comes to life and starts becoming a real man. Amy can't hide him forever, and she has an enemy in Miss Quince, an angry matron at the orphanage who hates everything to do with sailors because she was once disappointed by one.

The Captain escapes to sea, where he soon hears of a gold treasure and a map to find it. The Captain returns to the orphanage to collect Amy for the trip, now that he is fully grown. But alas! Convinced that he was dead, Amy has turned into a doll herself. The Captain takes her aboard his ship, the Ariel, and they set sail with a most unusual crew — toy animals that have been brought to life in the same way the Captain had been. But there is a mutiny brewing... a woman calling herself the Bad Sister who is plotting against the Captain... a crew of bloodthirsty pirates in hot pursuit... and a poor second mate who is dangerously obsessed with numerology, seeing portents of a terrible judgment everywhere.

Kennedy starts every chapter with a quote from Mother Goose, and the animals aboard the ship are brought to life after having Mother Goose read to them. Juxtaposed with Mother Goose's nonsense rhymes is the Bible, with all its verses of both comfort and warning. Skivvy, the poor sailor who is afraid the quest will bring nothing but sorrow, used to be a pair of long underwear and he was brought to life after having the Bible read to him. I wonder exactly what Kennedy was doing, intentionally using Mother Goose and the Bible as foils to one another.

Almost all the animals brought to life as a result of Mother Goose are good and faithful creatures, but Skivvy is addled. He "worries a lot about his soul, that one." Is the message that the Bible must always be tempered with the timeless wisdom of Mother Goose? Or that we must have the uncomplicated faith of children to interpret the Bible correctly?

Kennedy's writing is just right — humorous and insightful, but never parading those qualities to the reader. I love his description of Numerology as the wanton daughter of the Queen of all science, Mathematics. The characters are believable and well-rounded.

And yet there is something in this book that prevents me from loving it unreservedly. It was that way when I read it years ago, and it remains the same now. Perhaps the story moves too slowly and feels padded. Maybe it's the distance that I can sense in Kennedy; the story is very much outside of him. I can't quite explain it, but this will never be a book I hug to myself.

And yet I will always remember Amy's blue button eyes in a bottle at the bottom of the ocean. For me, it was worth the read just for that. ( )
1 vote wisewoman | Jan 15, 2009 |
If you are, or know, a girl who loves A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, you should find a copy of this book. It is my absolute favorite book from my childhood. I first read it when I was nine, and have gone back whenever I want a easy read with a happy ending. Dolls that come to life, talking animals on a sailing ship, orphans who overcome, even a wicked witch!- what more could a girl want from a story? ( )
  pipercat519 | Oct 22, 2008 |
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A girl who has changed into a doll and a doll who has changed into a sea captain sail the pirate-ridden high seas with a crew of Mother Goose animals, in search of gold treasure.

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