The London Eye Mystery

by Siobhan Dowd

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To write a double entry journal for a reading assignment, the left-hand column of the page will record the quotations you select, the central column will record the page numbers of the quotations, and the right-hand column will record your response to or observations on the quotation. Your responses will range from thoughts or questions the story raises to ideas the story inspires. Some response "connection codes" or "sentence starters" suggested by the New Jersey Ocean Port School District and the Medina, Ohio, Buckeye Local Schools are included in the list that follows:

  • This quote makes me think of ...
  • This passage reminds me of a time when ...
  • I had a similar conflict when ...
  • The author has created a mood of ___ by ...
  • I infer from this quote that ...
  • I am confused by or because ...
  • I think this is an error in writing or story structure because ...
  • I predict that this ...
  • This was funny/sad because __ and it means ...
  • This foreshadows or relates to ...
  • The author uses a tone of __ indicated by ...

A quotation might grab your attention for a variety of reasons, among which are that you recognize it as important to the structure, plot conflict, foreshadowing or characterization of the story. A quotation might also interest you because you think it is an error in how or what the author wrote; you don't understand it; you find it inspiring or confusing; you very much like it or dislike it; you are reminded of something you've experienced or lived through. You might also want to analyze how the author creates mood, tone or meaning or it might interest you because of many other factors of thought, feeling or memory.

Writing a double entry response journal to a reading is another way of annotating the text. This method has the added step of writing out the words of the text as a quotation on a journal page. After that, you proceed as with any other annotation: you write the thoughts or feelings that the words, phrases, sentences or passages of the text inspire in you. Annotating a text is writing in the margins and other white spaces of a page so as to capture your thoughts and reactions to what is written. A double entry journal transfers what you might write in the white spaces of a book to the pages of a journal, which is advantageous because a journal can be shared.

Here are a few examples of my responses to items taken from the first pages of the story. My responses may be very different from yours, and you must always use your own ideas and words (although we can be inspired to thoughtfulness by others).

Simulation of Double Entry Journal Response

1. LEFT SIDE QUOTATION: A stranger came up to us in the queue, offering us a free ticket.


RIGHT SIDE RESPONSE: I have two questions immediately in my mind when I read this. The first--an unaswerable question--is who is the stranger? I feel a sense of alarm. The second is for what reason would a stranger offer one free ticket to a group of kids?

2. LEFT SIDE QUOTATION: We took it and gave it to Salim. We shouldn't have done this, but we did.


RIGHT SIDE RESPONSE: That they took something from a stranger feels like trouble. I predict this is the introduction to the CONFLICT. There is also a suggestion and TONE of guilt and regret. I predict their action has some very bad consequences.

3. LEFT SIDE QUOTATION: [H]e had vanished off the face of the earth. This is how having a funny brain that runs on a different operating system from other people's helped me to figure out what had happened.


RIGHT SIDE RESPONSE: I think there is an error in Dowd's writing here. There is no logical connection between "This is..." and "he vanished." I think what Dowd means is "This following tale is the story of how having a funny brain ... helped me figure out what had happened," but this is not what is actually expressed. A separate paragraph should be given to "This is how..." so that the structure frames the sentence to point to its logical sense (even if Dowd's aim was to simulate how the narrator's brain works). I also think "This is how..." provides FORESHADOWING of how the mystery will be solved: The narrator figures out the clues because his brain understands things other people's brains miss.

[Images from the New Jersey Ocean Port School District and the Medina, Ohio, Buckeye Local Schools web sites.]

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