What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the concerns are minor here: a mention of tongue kissing, some products, adults smoke and drink. Of more concern is that for the main character 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?
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.
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.
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?