What intrigue, fun, and amazing depth in The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd! What’s this gripping mystery about? Aunt Gloria and her son, Salim, come to London to say goodbye to Ted and Kat’s family before heading for a new life in New York. The sisters and kids decide to take in a final day of sightseeing. Salim ends up on the Eye by himself but he never gets off! What happened to Salim?
Told in first person point-of-view by Ted, a 12 year old on the autism spectrum, this book is a gem for many reasons. As a read-aloud or for kids in upper elementary and older, this book is loaded with enough material to satisfy readers and teachers alike. All the characters in the book are well-developed. Themes abound. The clues are intriguing, the mystery is a real page turner, and the shattering reality of a missing kid is not glossed over.
The portrayal of the thoughts and actions of a kiddo on the autism spectrum is a primary accomplishment of this book. Seriously, that is no mean feat. Ted talks to us about his brain with its different operating system, relates his never-ending and complex thoughts on weather systems, and lets us know when he’s stressed, including habitual hand shaking and occasional banging and kicking walls. Poor Ted. I’d bang walls in his position, too. If ONLY his family would listen to Ted!
Ted’s sister, Kat, is a tweener in rebellion against her mum, secretly smoking and often lying, and cursing several times in the book. While reading this aloud, I left out most of those words. On the other hand, I appreciate the author’s authentic description of Kat’s struggle to find her way while grappling with agonizing guilt over Salim’s disappearance.
As a special ed teacher, I’d use this book to develop empathy among neurotypical learners for those whose brain are on IOS-Autism. Kids on the spectrum are at risk for bullying and this book would be a terrific tool for countering those prejudices. The London Eye Mystery could also validate kids who have been made aware of their diagnosis of ASD.
I was grieved to discover that Siobhan Dowd passed away in 2007 at the age of 47. She had devoted much of her life’s energy to “tak[ing] stories to children and young people without stories.” In the days before her death, she established The Siobhan Dowd Trust, a worthwhile project to supply books to those who otherwise couldn’t access them. Siobhan Dowd definitely achieved her goal of giving a voice to kiddos like Ted. I encourage you to read the book and check out her foundation, where all royalties and funds from overseas sales provide hope for the voiceless.