The best children’s books can be so much more gripping than adult ones. I enjoyed reading Troubles and admired the writing but I started to feel it was too long. The London Eye Mystery, on the other hand, is a book to be enjoyed and whizzed through. The narrator is Ted, who lives with his parents and sister Kat. There are plenty of arguments but they are basically a close, loving family. The reader soon realizes that Ted is just a little odd. He counts every Shreddie he eats for breakfast. When his mum says their front garden is ‘the size of a postage stamp’, Ted works out that it’s actually the size of 22,300 stamps. It turns out that he knows he has ‘a syndrome’, never named but probably high functioning autism (?) which makes him different from other people. He knows all about weather and many arcane subjects yet can’t understand facial expressions or body language. So instead of saying that someone smiled, he will say that the corners of their mouth turned up, which he understands means they are pleased/friendly.
It can’t be easy, living with Ted but sometimes a brain which works differently can reach conclusions which wouldn’t occur to other people and that’s just what happens in this story. When Ted and Kat’s Aunty Gloria and her son Salim come down from Manchester to stay for a few days, Salim is mad keen to ride on the London Eye. The children are queueing for tickets when a stranger offers them one free ticket. Salim accepts, Ted and Kat watch him go up. But they never see him get off again; he has completely disappeared. Cue acute distress, police everywhere and a tearful television plea from Aunty Glo. Meanwhile though, Ted’s brain is humming and he and Kat set out to solve the mystery.
I loved this book. There are bound to be comparisons with Mark Haddon’s The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night-time but I’d say this was suitable for a younger readership. It’s very sad that the author died young and all royalties go to a charitable trust she set up before she died.
More Kid-Lit: I pre-ordered The Longest Whale Song by Jacqueline Wilson in the Kindle version. Switched on the wireless this morning and it was there in seconds. Talk about instant shopping!