Thursday, August 28, 2008

The London Eye Mystery

I read The London Eye Mystery in one sitting-it's that good! Throw in a compelling mystery, a great London atmosphere, and a sensitive yet not maudlin portrayal of a young boy with an autism spectrum disorder, and you have a book that's hard to put down.

Cousin Salim and Aunt Gloria are visiting Ted and Kat before their big move to New York City. Naturally, they want to see the sights of London before moving to the States; when the "Eye" (the Ferris wheel-like contraption built in 2000) is suggested, Salim immediately perks up.

The line (or queue, as the British say) for the ride is interminably long; to their surprise, a stranger offers them a ticket for an immediate boarding. Since Salim is the only one who hasn't experienced the Eye, the ticket is given to Salim.

Ted and Kat keep track of Salim's pod, but to their astonishment, he does not emerge from the ride. How could Salim have slipped away, and why?

As the days go by, the initial hope the family feels fades to guilt and fear, as they wonder if they will ever see Salim again. The final scenes are very fast paced and surprising, as Ted puts the clues together.

Ted is a winning and sensitively drawn character dealing with aspects of an autism spectrum disorder. His arm flapping, occasional grunting, coping skills when faced with loud noises, and obsessions are interwoven throughout the story, but never overwhelm this story. His relationship with his older sister, who at times is affectionate and exasperated with him, is genuinely drawn. Some Britishisms, such as terms for cigarettes and flashlights, might need explaining, but the success of Harry Potter has shown that occasional regional differences do not trip up children! Although the final outcome is expected for a children's mystery, the twists and turns throughout the story will keep young readers' attentions until the very end.

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