The London Eye Mystery



Gripping mystery told by kid with Asperger's.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Learning to lie to parents is seen as a sign of progress for the main character.

Not applicable

Some kissing with tongue, a mention of "sex stuff."


"Fags" is British slang for cigarettes.


Soft drink, motorcycle, candy brands mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking and smoking, mentions of drugs and needles.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the concerns are minor here: a mention of tongue kissing, and adults smoke and drink. Of more concern is that the main character's learning to lie to his parents is portrayed as a positive development.

What's the story?

When Salim disappears while riding in a sealed pod on the London Eye, his cousins Kat and Ted, who has Asperger's syndrome, try to solve the mystery while their family falls apart and the police are baffled. Finding that the adults won't listen to them or take them seriously, they set off on their own to follow the clues and theories that Ted, whose brain works on \"a different operating system,\" comes up with.

Is it any good?


Aimed at younger readers than Haddon's novel, this one scores on two counts. The first is the mystery: It's tightly constructed and solid. Too often mysteries for kids feel bogus or trumped up, with logic holes a mile wide, but here both the event and its resolution make perfect sense. The second is Ted, whose quirks are mostly endearing, and whose eventual success is so satisfying. The author, though, is careful not to overdo it -- Ted's syndrome is real, not cute, and his own awareness of it is, at times, poignant. For kids who like their mysteries realistic, this will be a welcome addition to a genre that, right now at least, is not exactly burgeoning.

The late Siobhan Dowd wrote this before some of her other books that have already been published. But just before she completed it, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon was released to great acclaim, and it was decided that there were too many similarities to release THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY on schedule. Like Haddon's book, this one is told by a boy on the autistic spectrum (in this case, presumably, Asperger's Syndrome, though this is never stated), and involves the boy solving a mystery.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the unnamed, presumably Asperger's, syndrome the main character has. What are its characteristics? Disadvantages? Difficulties? Are there also advantages? How do they balance out? What would it be like to see the world as Ted does?

Book details

Author:Siobhan Dowd
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:David Fickling Books
Publication date:February 1, 2008
Number of pages:322
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:9
Read alone:10

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written bydakota laton January 15, 2009
Adult Written byCeci26 February 25, 2009
Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written bypeony April 9, 2008

Well-structured, effective mystery

Interesting story with an especially well-done mystery. The family interactions are believable, if not always admirable. In particular, the parents repeatedly are too upset to listen to the kids (whereas a police official does listen), and the kids in turn deceive the parents in order to continue their investigations. Consider discussing with younger readers why Ted (with what is presumably Asperger's) managing to tell his first-ever lies is treated in the story as positive progress for him. Note that: family members smoke and drink, several instances of British usage of "bloody" as a swear word (and one use of "God"), mention of "skiving" (= playing hooky/ditching school), one mention of the potential for kids to be kidnapped for "sex stuff". For ages 10+.


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