A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
DECEMBER 31:

  • It’s the birth date of Pamela Bianco (1906–1994) Flora.
  • In 1857 Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom chooses Ottawa, Ontario, as the capital of Canada. Read Angel Square by Brian Doyle.
  • Let there be light! In 1879 Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time. Read Edison’s Gold by Geoff Watson.
  • In 1891 a new immigration depot is opened on Ellis Island, New York. Read If Your Name was Changed at Ellis Island by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Wayne Parmenter, and The Memory Coat by Elvira Woodruff, illustrated by Michael Dooling.
  • And, it’s New Year’s Eve!

On December 31, 1999, the Prime Minister of England, Tony Blair, formally opened what was then the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, the London Eye. On the banks of the River Thames, this major landmark and tourist attraction has provided a panoramic view of the city for around 3.5 million riders each year.

In 2008 the London Eye served as the focus, and part of the subject matter, for one of the best new mysteries published for fifth through eighth graders, The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd. Readers learn a great deal about this structure from the narrator, Ted, who excels in retaining statistics because he has Asperser’s Syndrome. When Ted’s cousin Salim, who he has not seen for years, comes to visit London, the two head out with Ted’s sister Kat to take a ride. But things don’t quite turn out as Ted has hoped. Given a ticket by a stranger, Salim boards the Ferris wheel alone, and then he simply vanishes. While the adults in the story remain clueless, Ted and Kat set out to solve the mystery of what happened to their cousin.

Ted has unusually focused powers of observation and works on one theory after another about what actually happened. Soon he and Kat begin enlarging photographs from the scene of the crime, finding and shadowing the mysterious stranger who gave Salim his ticket, and then calling the police with discoveries. Since the adults in his life have long stopped listening to Ted’s long explanations, they fail to notice that he, in fact, has been making the only progress on the case. Just like Sherlock Holmes and Watson, the brother and sister duo solve the mystery—and then they realize they must save their cousin’s life. This book is one of the few mysteries I know that makes even better reading the second time around as you watch the author lay down all the clues.

A page-turner that educates about London and its neighborhoods; a book that explores Asperger’s Syndrome and brings you into the mind of someone with this disorder; and a very funny commentary on family life and family dynamics, The London Eye Mystery has been a favorite of both adults and children since it appeared. On this day when the London Eye was opened, read The London Eye Mystery—and get taken for your own wonderful ride.

Here’s a passage from The London Eye Mystery:

My favorite thing to do in London is to fly the Eye.

On a clear day you can see for twenty-five miles in all directions because you are in the largest observation wheel ever built. You are sealed into one of the thirty-two capsules with the strangers who were next to you in the queue, and when they close the doors, the sound of the city is cut off. You begin to rise. The capsules are made of glass and steel and are hung from the rim of the wheel. As the wheel turns, the capsules use the force of gravity to stay upright. It takes thirty minutes to go a full circle.

 

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Originally posted December 31, 2010. Updated for .

Tags: Autism, Family, London, Special Needs
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for The London Eye Mystery
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COMMENTS

  1. Thank you so much for the review. I’ve been looking for a kids book like mine but more focused around geography (especially London). Thanks!

  2. Jamie Tan says:

    I picked up this book after reading your entry, and I’m glad I did. I thought it was a great, empowering story about kids being able to uncover clues on their own. I loved how Dowd portrayed the adults throughout the novel, especially his aunt’s relationship with her ex-husband, because it made me think twice about the relationships I have.

  3. Darsa says:

    I don’t know how I missed this! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Anita says:

    Darsa: Glad I can introduce it to you.

  5. Beverly says:

    I loved this book. Wonderful mystery to solve, and even better, interesting characters. I wish more children would brave the size of the book and get lost in its intriguing story.

  6. Barb says:

    It’s so sad that Dowd died at such an early age. I wonder how A Monster Calls will do in the awards this year.

  7. Anita says:

    Barb: That will be interesting to see. Certainly Ness has pulled off a fabulous book.

  8. Carol Sibley says:

    A great introduction to mysteries for younger readers.

  9. We recently read this for a graduate class at Indiana University on Multicultural and International Children’s Literature. Having a British mother and having spent time in England, I enjoyed the cultural aspects of this novel, as well as the way autism was portrayed. In our class discussion, we wondered if this book would help children better understand and emphathize with children who have autism or other disabilities.

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