The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
Scholastic, 2017. ISBN 9781407170992
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. 'Goldfish Boy' is the nickname given to Matthew by one of the visiting grandchildren of a neighbour. Matthew is in his own form of goldfish bowl, staying in his bedroom night and day, staring out of the window, looking at the goings-on in his neighbourhood.
His OCD behaviour has made it impossible for him to attend school or join in any family activities. He records all the actions of the people who live in his small street in notebooks. They are all everyday occurrences until toddler Teddy disappears from his grandad's front garden. Who has taken him and can Matthew solve the puzzle?
Matthew is helped by a young neighbour, Melody Bird, who insists on supporting him in his quest. She has her own issues and problems (as do all the street residents) but her own determination and acceptance of Matthew creates a friendship between them.
Lisa Thompson has made Matthew a believable character who struggles with a family tragedy by keeping germs at bay. He is flawed but likable and his humour and observations of others adds a lightness to her writing.
Bullying, kidnapping, OCD, loneliness and personal loss are all issues discussed, as the mystery of the missing child is slowly unravelled.
The cover by Mike Lowery shows Matthew 'alone' in a crowd of his neighbours. Its restricted pallet of colours works well and demonstrates this book is not a mainstream mystery story.
This was an engrossing read and the nearly 400 pages of story passed very quickly. A very accomplished first novel by Lisa Thompson. I highly recommend this book for students aged 10 to 14 years old.