I had seen this book – The London Eye Mystery mentioned on a few different book lists for kids in the 10 years and over range, but for some reason I had never looked at it for my kids and then on one of my library trips I spotted in on the shelf and had a quick read of the blurb at the back.
And I was immediately interested (just shows how important those blurbs are). I was drawn to it because of the lines – “Had he spontaneously combusted (Ted’s theory)” and “It’s up to Ted, whose brain runs on its own unique operating system”. Those two lines made me think this may be about a character (Ted) who is possibly neurodiverse and I want stories (positive stories) that feature characters who are different to the norm, characters who may possibly be on the spectrum, characters who have to face some extra challenges. So just based on that I borrowed the book and I pre-read it. And the reason why I pre-read it was I wanted to make sure that if the character was neurodiverse like I suspected, he was written in a positive light (we have recently read something about a child with autism and the piece left my daughter and myself upset because it was actually very negative). And let me stress that I understand that some of the challenges facing neurodiverse people can be difficult, I truly do understand that but I want my kids to read stories with characters who face those challenges in a positive light, so they can see that being on the spectrum may have its challenges but it is not all doom and gloom, that there are lots of people out there who are finding a path for themselves even with the extra challenges.
Okay so that is why I was interested in reading this story. And it did not disappoint. It is a fun detective story and the main character Ted is Autistic (he is high functioning) and he does have challenges and the author does not shy away from those. In fact there are scenes where his family get frustrated with him because of his differences but the family are not cruel about it, it is more an honest account of what living with autism is like. And in the story you read of how Ted finds ways to help himself cope and how he is also able to use his unique way of thinking to help solve problems. That is what I really appreciated about this story, it is honest, but it points out how differences can be positives if we just accept the person as they are and help them find ways of coping and fitting in that suits them.
And for those of you with sensitive readers – yes a kid does go missing and they do mention that they find a dead body, but it is not the kid who is missing. He is eventually found and he is unharmed.
My daughter who is what I consider a sensitive reader enjoyed this story, she did not find anything upsetting in it. She liked the mystery and she appreciated the happy ending. She also really enjoyed reading about Ted, about how he was able to use his different way of thinking for something really positive. And I found after she had read it we actually had a great discussion where we were able to compare Ted to another autistic character from a different book. I really think this is powerful when authors are able to create characters that spark conversations, conversations that help us, the readers understand other people and the way they react to situations better. I actually wish I could find more books like this. Really it is one to read just for the simple fact that Ted is so well written.
Okay so one of the other things about this book is you can use it as a English unit. In fact I am thinking of using it with my youngest as one of his Year 7 books. You can download a FREE pack of resources from the Oxford University Press site which link in with this story – Resources for The London Eye Mystery. We have used these Rollercoaster resources with quite a few of their books and I have found them very useful (plus I love that they are FREE to download)
The pack starts with an Overview scheme of work. This basically is a summary of what the lessons are going to cover and how they link into each chapter. (sorry not the best pictures, my printer was not printing out the pages nicely).
There is a plot summary (if you have not had the chance to read the book before you start using it with your kids I would recommend that you read this summary so you know what to expect.)
Then you get a suggested lesson plans and linked activities. Now, one of the reasons why I like these packs is because the linked activities are always varied and interesting. In this pack they have included things like idioms, writing a police incident report, an advertising campaign, figurative language, tension tracker and an infer and deduce activity (as well as others). Really a nice variety.
My daughter and I both highly recommend this book. And if you are a home educator it is worth having a look at the resource pack, you just might find some useful activities to link in.
We got our copy of The London Eye Mystery from our library but you can also get a copy directly from amazon – The London Eye Mystery
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