The London Eye Mystery discussion guide



Author: Siobhan Dowd

Publisher: David Fickling Books

Suggested year group: 5

Synopsis: When Ted and Kat watched their cousin Salim get on board the London Eye, he turned and waved before getting on. After half an hour it landed and everyone trooped off - but no Salim. Where could he have gone? How on earth could he have disappeared into thin air? Since the police are having no luck finding him, Ted and Kat become sleuthing partners.

Despite their prickly relationship, they overcome their differences to follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find their cousin. And ultimately it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mystery. This is an unputdownable spine-tingling thriller!

Reasons for selection:

'The London Eye Mystery' is a gripping thriller which received the NASEN/TES Special Educational Needs Children's Book Award.  Michael Rosen praised it as "A book that allows difference to be part of the plot and not a point in itself." In 200-8 it was posthumously awarded the Bisto Book of the Year prize and it has also been adapted by The Unicorn Theatre.

Before reading:

Semantic mapping: Write the word mystery on the whiteboard or IWB. Allow two minutes for the children to write down as many words as they can think of which are associated with he word 'mystery'.

  • Working in small groups, ask them to share their lists and start to group words together e.g. mystery detectives might include Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, Nancy Drew, Lady Grace; settings might include, dark forest, castle, etc. Encourage the children to talk to each other about why they are grouping certain words together. Stress that there are lots of possibilities and that words can fit in more than one category. When finished keep the maps as a working document to be returned to and added to when reading 'The London Eye Mystery'. Use the map to discuss whether the London Eye Mystery meets their expectations of a mystery story. Are there any ways in which it is different to their expectations?
  • Share the title with the children. What do you expect to happen in a mystery story? Does anyone have any ideas as to what might happen in this mystery?
  • what do you know about the London Eye? Give the children some of the facts and look at some pictures of the Eye during the day and at night. Why is it called an 'Eye'?


During reading:

  • Narration:  the story is narrated in the first person  by Ted. What impression do you get of him? What clues are given in the first chapter to show that he is different?
  • Choose some words from the text for an in-depth investigation. Follow this procedure. Select around 10 target words. Start with your target word e.g. meteorologist Write the quotation where the word appears in the text. Does the word give you any clues to its meaning. For instance, you may know that words ending with the suffix ologist denote that the word is an occupation. What clues do you get from the root of the word 'meteor? Next discuss in pairs where you may have heard the word used, or seen it written. Write down those examples. Now turn to the dictionary and check the definition. It is good to use more than one dictionary. Some words may not look difficult but there will be subtle differences in definitions which help you develop a deeper understanding of the meaning. For homework you might see how many times you encounter the target words. Write down any additional uses as you come across them. This is a working document.



Target word

Where it appear in the text

Clues to meaning

Where I have heard it used

Dictionary definition

Further examples














  • One of Ted's challenges is the idiomatic use of language. He interprets words literally. So when someone says it is 'raining cats and dogs' he finds this difficult to comprehend. As you read, make a collection of these apparently illogical uses of language. How does Ted interpret them? What do we generally mean when we use these phrases? Find out the origins of some of these sayings. A dictionary of phrase and fable, dictionary of idioms and etymological dictionary will be useful reference resources. Here are some examples from the book:
    • They were running around like headless chickens.
    • She was talking up a storm.
    • It was raining cats and dogs.
    • I’ll have your guts for garters.
    • You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife.
    • Speak of the Devil. 
    • Small talk.
    • That should be right up your street
    • She’s going off the rails.
    • Shake a leg.
    • That building was sick - It has to come down.
    • He’s the spit of his Dad.
  • Characters: How do you think this story would have been different if it had been narrated by Kat? you might hotseat each of the main characters: Ted, Kat and Salim to develop an understanding of character. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each character? Do you have different strengths and weaknesses to your friends and siblings?
  • Writing a mystery story: how does Siobhan Dowd create a sense of mystery in this book? what is the solution to the mystery in this story? Was the solution what you expected or were there some surprises? How effective was the solution?



After reading:

  • Which of these themes do you think the book deals with. Choose three and explain your choices: love, bravery, overcoming adversity, hope, friendship, rags to riches, growing up, belonging, adventure, truth and lies, outsiders, self-reliance.
  • All stories have a conflict. What are the main conflicts in The London Eye Mystery? Are some of the characters in conflict with each other? Do any of the characters have an internal conflict (conflict with themselves)? Is there any institutional conflict (with organisations or authority)?


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