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The Eyes and the Impossible


Readability Age Range



Year Published

Book Review

Johannes the dog lives in a park by the sea. He wants to find a way to free his friends, the bison. But now he must also find a way to save his own freedom.

Plot Summary

The dog Johannes roams the park by the sea—unchained, unkenneled and absolutely free. He runs fast and observes well, and for this reason, he is the Eyes. Every day, Johannes patrols the park and reports back to bisons Freya, Samuel and Meredith—the park’s wise rulers. They solve problems and maintain the equilibrium of the park, which can be upset by new roads or buildings.

Johannes doesn’t work alone, though. He is helped by many of his friends who serve as the Assistant Eyes. Chief among the Assistant Eyes is Bertrand the gull, Johannes’ best friend. Sonya the squirrel, Yolanda the pelican, and Angus the raccoon also serve as Assistant Eyes, and together, they often solve some of the park’s routine’s problems.

But when the problems build at an alarming rate, they become almost too much—and too dangerous—to handle.

Those problems begin when a human leashes Johannes while he’s distracted at the plaza. A rescue effort frees him from the violent criminals who abducted him, but everyone feels a bit shaken.

Johannes may be fast. But being captured makes him realize he isn’t as fast or invincible as he thought he was. Additionally, he realizes for the first time how terrible it is to be held captive.

It inspires him to create a bold plan: Free the bison who spend their days limited by a fence.

Johannes tries to stay out of the sight of humans. But one day, he saves a little girl from drowning. Though he acted heroically, all the people see is a wild animal loose in the park. They search for him now more than ever, and Johannes’ runs grow increasingly difficult.

Then one day, the friends discover some new visitors. Goats have arrived to eat the prickly weeds they all dislike. Johannes befriends one named Helene and learns all about the world beyond the park. With humans closing in and time running short, Johannes and his friends search for a way to free the bison and keep Johannes free as well.

But as urgent as the threats may be, solutions are scarce. But even though escape seems impossible, they realize giving up isn’t an option. They must do the impossible.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Johannes believes the sun is God and refers to it as she. He argues with Helene about whether this is true or if the sun is simply a ball of fire. Magic is mentioned.

Authority Roles

The bison rule the park, mostly making wise and just decisions. We’re introduced to a human thief named Rainbow—a guardian of sorts to teenagers Twisty and Pamela—who steals a cash box from the park. He is also violent.

Profanity & Violence

The ducks are called morons. Fighting and attacking people and animals are mentioned. Two gulls die by suicide when they are nearing the point of no longer being able to fly—purposefully plummeting into the ocean. Twisty kicks Johannes and pulls on his leash. Rainbow threatens to beat and kill Johannes. A girl almost drowns. Bertrand is shot with an arrow. He contemplates suicide as a result and decides against it. Angus bites a person. The people studying the bison declare, “Oh my god” repeatedly.

Sexual Content


Discussion Topics

To Johannes, freedom meant living on his own. Read John 8:31-36. How do we become free?

Nobody likes the ducks. Why do you think that is? Read Proverbs 12:15 and 18:13. Why do you think listening to others is important?

Read Ephesians 2:10, Job 31:15 and Matthew 6:30. Why is life precious? Does the way you live reflect God’s view of how important your life is? Why or why not?

Additional Comments

Author Dave Eggers tells an interesting, unique tale filled with friendship. His characters help each other, forgive one another and work together to accomplish tasks none of them could do on their own. However, some of the violence in the book could be too much for some young readers.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Rachel Pfeiffer