Facing fears; finding friends...

Suffering from severe obsessive compulsive disorder, Matthew hasn't been to school in ages. He confines himself to his home- mainly his bedroom where he feels he has complete control over germs which mean illness and illness which means death.

To keep himself busy, Matthew watches his neighbours from the upstairs windows, noting what is going on and when it happens. Although the residents of the cul-de-sac don't appreciate his observations, when the toddler from next door, Teddy, goes missing, Matthew was the last person to see him and becomes the focus of the police enquiry.

What follows is a mystery which Matthew is determined to solve- but to do so, he must face his own fears and leave the safety of his home.

This is a book which works in so many ways. Matthew's street is full of very 'normal' people yet, as we see them through Matthew's eyes, we learn that they too are harbouring a multitude of secrets. Everyone's story develops as the mystery unravels, showing how wrong first impressions can be. The 'upstanding', the bully, the 'weird' and the reclusive all have a story to tell.

The book is funny and sad in turns, encouraging the reader to think more deeply before judging others. Matthew's condition is handled skillfully, without patronising or shying away from the realities of his condition and its crippling effects on not just Matthew, but those around him.

A very satisfying read, 'The Goldfish Boy' is one to add to the 'must have' list!

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

Scholastic   ISBN: 978-1407170992