Tuesday 10 April 2018

Autism Awareness Month - Blog Hop

Autism fact

You can see signs of autism in infants as young as six months

Hopes and Dreams

My primary hope and dream are one and the same, not very original, and can be described in one word: Peace

Peace from war, of course, but also peace in general. Peace for each and every one of us to live our lives as we want to. Peace to be who we were always meant to be. Peace as in the absence of strive and intolerance. Peace as in patience, as in allowing others the time and space they need to function. In short, my wish for each and every one of you is that you may live your life in peace.

The next part of this post is going to be different from what (most) other contributors are doing. I recently read a most wonderful book featuring a charming main character on the autism spectrum. This book is juvenile fiction, aimed at readers age nine and upwards. However, I highly recommend The Guggenheim Mystery and its prequel The London Eye Mystery to any reader over the age of nine who enjoys well written stories which convey a worthy message without hitting the reader over the head with it.

The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens
(Based on an idea by Siobhan Dowd)

299 pages
Publisher: Penguin
Juvenile Fiction 9-11


My name is Ted Spark. I am 12 years and 281 days old. I have seven friends.

Three months ago, I solved the mystery of how my cousin Salim disappeared from a pod on the London Eye.

This is the story of my second mystery.

This summer, I went on holiday to New York, to visit Aunt Gloria and Salim. While I was there, a painting was stolen from the Guggenheim Museum, where Aunt Gloria works.

Everyone was very worried and upset. I did not see what the problem was. I do not see the point of paintings, even if they are worth £9.8 million. Perhaps that's because of my very unusual brain, which works on a different operating system to everyone else's.

But then Aunt Gloria was blamed for the theft - and Aunt Gloria is family. And I realised just how important it was to find the painting, and discover who really had taken it. 


“It might have something to do with my funny brain that works on a different operating system to other people’s. It makes patterns like the weather very important to me, and makes me notice things that no one else could. I see the way things connect, and I connect things that other people do not seem able to. […] There are patterns everywhere you look.”

I first ‘met’ Ted Spark in 2011 when I read Siobhan Dowd’s wonderful The London Eye Mystery. Siobhan had been contracted to write two Ted Spark mysteries but unfortunately her untimely death made that impossible…until now. And I can only say that Robin Stevens did an amazing job picking up the baton and running with it seamlessly.

The blurb tells you all you need to know about the story, so below I’ll share some of the many thoughts I had while reading the book.

Because Ted is on the spectrum he takes life very literally which is confusing to him and provides food for thought for the readers, because it makes us think, for example, why we often say things that mean the exact opposite of what they sound like. Ted’s literal mind also means that he explains what happens to him in great detail, which allows the author to introduce subjects into the story that might be too complicated for the readers this book is (primarily) aimed at, if it wasn’t for those explanations.

Both the mystery and the setting work brilliantly in combination with the way Ted’s mind work. Patterns speak to him and The Guggenheim is a structure created in patterns. Having said that, Ted learns that just because something appears to be impersonal doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be (confusing) feelings involved:

“I had thought that a missing painting would be a simple mystery to solve, with no emotions in it, but it had turned out to be very difficult to understand.”

Ted’s observations about himself and the world he tries to find his way in made me smile at times.

“Most people are better at lying than I am.”

His pride because he has managed to tell eight lies (yes, he is keeping track) is as revealing as it is touching. The fact that he also keeps track of the amount of people he considers friends (seven) would be heartbreaking except that Ted takes pride in those friendships and doesn’t worry about the number not being higher.

Ted’s methodical mind works according to a system made famous by Sherlock Holmes:

"Once you eliminate the impossiblewhatever remainsno matter how improbable, must be the truth."

And the system works as well for him as it did for his more famous (but not necessarily more clever) predecessor.

Just like its prequel, I think this book is a little gem. First and foremost it provides the reader with a most fascinating main character in Ted as well as a brilliantly plotted mystery. But more than that, this story gives the reader a wonderful insight into the workings of a mind somewhat different from their own. These books provided me with the opportunity to understand Ted and, through him, the workings of an autistic mind somewhat better without ever making me feel sorry for Ted.

“Sometimes when I want to shake my hand out, or groan, and I know I can’t, I get that built-up feeling in my head. It wraps itself around everything, like a low-lying mist, until I can’t tell where I am or what I’m thinking, just the way someone stuck in a mist doesn’t know which way they are going, or where they have been.”

In fact, almost from the start Ted has been for me a special MC in that he and the way he thinks stand out, not because they are less than, but because they show that thinking and feeling differently can come with a set of benefits all of their own. Truth be told; I’ve managed to fall for Ted over the course of these two books and find myself somewhat heartbroken that, in all likelihood, there won’t be any more mysteries featuring him.

These books were written for kids aged 9-11 (approximately) but I can confidentially say that older youngsters should enjoy this story too and, if I’m anything to go by, the same will be true for most (young) adults. Honestly, if you enjoy an intriguing mystery with a fascinating protagonist, I highly recommend these books.

You can read my thoughts on The London Eye Mystery on my old blog, here.


As you may have noticed, I’ve decided against promoting one of my own books here. The review above has turned this into a more than long enough post without me adding more images and blurbs. Since I will be giving one of those who leave a comment below the opportunity to pick a title from my backlist, which can be found here: Amazon Author Page, I guess you could say I managed to find a promo opportunity after all J Just don’t forget to leave a comment. The winner will be announced and contacted Sunday April 15th.

For RJ Scott’s Master Post, please click here: Autism Awareness Month


  1. I liked the Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, which had an autistic MC.
    jlshannon74 at gmail.com

    1. Thank you for your comment. I haven't read The Rosie Project yet, although it has been on my list for ages. I should try to get around to it soon.

  2. Thank you for participating in RJ's Autism Awareness blog hop. And thanks for the review. I wonder if these are available in Dutch as my son would love to read this.

    1. Hi Tanja. Yes, the are both available in Dutch: Het Reuzenradmysterie en Het Museummysterie.

  3. Thank you for the book recommendation, I never let one go without paying attention. It is difficult to find new book/writers which I can read with my nephew and niece and we both enjoy them (well, not counting Roald Dahl)... And thank you for taking part in the blog hop!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I hope you, your nephew and your niece will enjoy the books as much as I did.

  4. Thank you for taking part in the hop and helping to spread awareness! Thank you for the review too!
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  5. Thank you very much for your comments. My winner has been picked (the first comment) and an email will be going out shortly.