Monday, March 10, 2008

The London Eye Mystery
By Siobhan Dowd
Most enjoyed by 5th through 8th graders

Let me start by telling you that 'The London Eye Mystery' is one of the best mysteries I've read in a long time. It's one of those mysteries where you the reader are given all of the clues to solve the puzzle yourself. But as hard as I tried, I couldn't figure it out. Of course, once everything was laid out for me, I did a forehead slap 'duh' when I realized I should have seen it coming. Guess I don't make much of a detective so maybe you'll do better!

Ted and Kat are excited when their cousin Salim comes to London for a visit. They suggest the three take a ride on the London Eye, a Ferris-wheel-like ride in the heart of London. As they wait in line to buy tickets, a man offers them his ticket, saying he's changed his mind about the ride. Since Ted and Kat have ridden the Eye before, they let Salim take the ticket and watch as he hurries into line. He waves as he boards the pod, leaving Ted and Kat on the ground watching his pod go around the wheel. After the half hour ride, Ted and Kat eagerly scan the riders as they exit the pod but there is no Salim. They wait for another pod, then another, but as each empties, there is still no Salim. He has disappeared. While the family searches and contacts the police, Ted is sure he and Kat can figure out Salim's disappearance if they only look at all of the clues.
Ted is our narrator. He's the first to admit that he's a bit different. As he puts it, his brain is wired with a different operating system than everyone else's. He's able to think things through logically and carefully, catching small details that everyone else skips over. But he has a hard time reading facial expressions and will take whatever is said to him literally. When his cousin tells him a book is 'right up your street', Ted thinks he means that the book is really right up at the end of his street rather than his cousin's intended meaning, that the book is one Ted would be intersted in. Ted also has a habit of flapping his hand when he gets nervous. These aspects of Ted's personality make him very likeable and quite believable as the story's sleuth.
'The London Eye Mystery' is delightfully British. The characters wear trainers instead of sneakers, eat crisps instead of chips, and get around town on the tube instead of the subway. These little details help define the story's setting. And tea is plentiful when things look grim. Which reminds sure to brew a pot before you begin 'The London Eye Mystery'!

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