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Daniel Solove
The Eyemonger
In a faraway land, a stranger arrives with promises of greater security in exchange for sacrificing privacy. His name is The Eyemonger, and he has 103 eyes. With the help of flying eye creatures, he spies on everybody. But his plan soon starts to go wrong . . . The topic of privacy is rarely covered in children's books. The Eyemonger discusses privacy in a way that children can understand.
Tiptoeing the line between oddball fantasy and horror, Solove debuts in children’s literature with an age-appropriate, delightfully illustrated story concerned with issues of privacy. An unsettling, eyeball-covered stranger calling himself the Eyemonger arrives on a small urban island and proposes that he take over this cobblestone city’s security. The townspeople, delighted, immediately take him up on the offer. After all, thanks to his abundance of eyes, he promises to “surely make everyone all get along” and “fully prevent all that is wrong.” The Eyemonger embarks on an intrusive quest, using not only his own eyes but also a small army of flying eyeballs, to infiltrate every inch of the town and stop all wrongdoing at its source. But the oppression of constant surveillance weighs heavily on the town until a young artist named Griffin takes a stand and refuses to be bullied.

Solove’s underlying theme and catchy rhymes sit perfectly on the cusp of children’s and middle-grade reading levels, and Beckwith’s eye-catching and brilliantly detailed illustrations will inspire young imaginations to soar. Solove’s background in privacy law is on clear display through the clever manipulation of the Eyemonger—who preaches “If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear”—until he at last understands that inspiration and creativity come to a standstill under his vigilance. The topic and the somewhat horrific countenance of the Eyemonger will be too intense for some young readers but will likely spark interest and discussion in middle-grade audiences.

Beckwith’s evocative illustrations create a gaslit, vaguely steampunk mood that will remind readers of classic adventure tales even as the story takes on complex themes of consent and creativity. Despite the divergence from more traditional storybook lessons, the concept of government overreach presented in this uniquely cautionary fantasy will educate children and their caregivers as well.

Takeaway: A beautifully illustrated and curious tale cautioning readers of all ages about the importance of privacy.

Great for fans of: Kobi Yamada’s What Do You Do With A Problem? and Chris Riddell’s My Little Book of Big Freedoms.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A+
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B-