cover image The Eyes and the Impossible

The Eyes and the Impossible

Dave Eggers, illus. by Shawn Harris. Knopf, $18.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-524764-20-3; McSweeney’s, $28 (250p) ISBN 978-1-524764-20-3

In this exuberant illustrated novel by previous collaborators Eggers and Harris (What Can a Citizen Do?), high-spirited narrator Johannes is an “unkept and free” dog entrusted by the Keepers of the Equilibrium—three penned Bison who oversee the park where they all live—to be the park’s Eyes. Aided by a team of “comrades, allies” known as the Assistant Eyes (seagull Bertrand, squirrel Sonja, pelican Yolanda, and raccoon Angus), Johannes reports each day’s occurrences to the Bison, including anything that might upset the Equilibrium. When construction activity is detected, Johannes encounters “rectangles full of gorgeous commotion”—an art display that transfixes him, leading to his being leashed. After a dramatic cooperative rescue devised by the Assistant Eyes, Johannes realizes the “glory of liberation” and determines to free the Bison from their enclosure. Studded with strong opinions about the park’s residents (“The ducks know nothing”), a quick-moving first-person voice melds the dog’s background, beliefs, and observations. Eggers crafts a marvelous, fully fleshed protagonist in Johannes, who is at once an ebullient braggart, a faithful and intrepid operative, and a drolly humorous reporter whose compassionate narration delivers a rousing tale of community, joyful self-reliance, and the pleasures of running very, very fast. Aligning with themes of art and perspective, Harris contributes illustrations of Johannes as added to full-page reproductions of classical landscapes. Ages 8–12. (May)