The London Eye Mystery


Siobhan Dowd

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Minimum grade level: 


Ted lives in South London with his mum, his dad and big sister, Kat. He counts his shreddies (think frosted mini-wheats, although Ted probably doesn't like them frosted) as he eats them every morning, as he likes to eat between 35 and 40. One morning, Ted had only gotten through shreddie number 6 when his parents sent him down to the mailbox. Ted hurries because he hates leaving his shreddies to turn to mush. He gets back and his mum opens the mail.

As Ted is putting shreddie number 18 into his mouth, his mum explodes. Sister Kat has skipped school and been reported. At shreddie number 20, Ted is shocked to learn that his dad had skipped school when he was a kid and smoked cigarettes. And at shreddie number 37, Ted learns that his mum's sister, otherwise known as Hurricane Gloria, is coming for a visit. Aunt Gloria is bringing her son Salim with her.

Ted feels a little anxious about this visit, because change makes him feel uncomfortable. When Ted feels uncomfortable he starts shaking his hand, and when he starts shaking his hand, his family feels uncomfortable and so they tell him to stop. Which, of course, only makes Ted want to shake his hand even more. Anyway, when Ted meets Salim it seems like it's going to be OK. And it gets even better the next day when everyone sets out for Ted's favorite place in London: The London Eye. Here are some pictures of the Eye [good reproducible photos can be found in the London Eye Wikipedia entry].

There is nothing Ted likes better than "flying the Eye."

When they get to the Eye, though, the line is long. While Ted, Kat and Salim wait, someone comes up to them and offers them a ticket. Everyone's tired of waiting, and so Ted and Kat urge Salim to take the ticket and go up alone. Salim leaves at 11:32, so Ted knows he'll be back down at 12:02. Only when the capsule comes down and the doors open up, Salim isn't there.

Let's let Ted explain it: "Somewhere, somehow, in the thirty minutes of riding the Eye, in his sealed capsule, [Salim] had vanished off the face of the earth. This is how having a funny brain that runs on a different operating system from other people's helped me to figure out what had happened."

So with Ted, get ready to solve The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd.

Booktalk by Lee Catalano

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. Ted says his brain works on a "different operating system" than most people. It's likely that Ted has Asperger's Syndrome, a type of autism. Do you know anyone with Asperger's or autism? Do you think this is a positive portrayal of someone with Asperger's?
  2. How does the way Ted's brain works help him solve the case? What strengths does Kat bring to the case?
  3. Talk about some of the times when Ted's syndrome makes life more difficult for him.
  4. Salim's disappearance occurs because he doesn't want to move with his mum to the U.S. How have you coped when you've had to do something you didn't want to? What kind of choices did you have?
  5. Ted and Kat are typical quarrelling siblings. How do they work together to find Salim? What do they find out about each other?
  6. What do you think might happen to Ted, Kat, and Salim in the future? How might the experiences in the book change their lives?

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