Matthew is the Jimmy Stewart of this Rear Window for middle graders.
Behind the safety of his bedroom window, 12-year-old Matthew Corbin watches the world go by. Unable to go to school consistently or play with friends like other children his age because of a crippling fear of germs, Matthew observes life from behind the safety of glass windowpanes. Neighbors come and go about their business. Children play. And one day, a posh black car delivers a young girl and her baby brother to their grandfather, and neither Matthew nor his cul-de-sac in a largely white London suburb will ever be the same. When 15-month-old Teddy disappears, Matthew, with the unexpected help of a quirky, cemetery-obsessed neighbor, vows to solve the mystery of his disappearance. Matthew’s struggles with OCD and guilt over the death of his own baby brother are heartbreakingly real, yet somehow, even in Matthew’s most difficult moments, the novel never loses its sense of hope. Hope that Teddy will be found. And hope that Matthew will fight his demons and reclaim his life. A secondary cast of characters, including Matthew’s parents and Melody Bird, his sassy, self-appointed investigative partner, helps to make this possible. Thompson strikes the perfect balance, seemingly without compromise, between an issue-driven novel and one with broad, commercial appeal.
This empathetic debut is a middle-grade whodunit with a very special heart. (Mystery. 8-12)