The Malta Independent 18 May 2021, Tuesday

Il-Misteru tas-Sur Spir Spiteri

Tuesday, 13 April 2021, 10:21 Last update: about 2 months ago

Author: Trevor Zahra. Publisher: Merlin Publishers / 2021

The story revolves around a well-to-do man, living on his own, in an old house. His only company is the maid, the nephew, the neighbour, the milkman and an old friend. One day, this man, Mr Spir Spiteri, is found dead. The murderer is among these five people. But who did it?

This is at the heart of the unique mystery that Trevor Żahra has written, Il-Misteru tas-Sur Spir Spiteri. It is unique in that it is a murder and an investigation written for children, a story told in very short chunks of text and aimed at children aged eight upwards. Every page has a few sentences, in a large font size so that children can feel confident when reading and can move along with the mystery and try to solve the investigation together with the Police.

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It is unique also because it is the first time that augmented reality is used in a Merlin book. In fact, technology is an integral part of this story. The book can be read alone as it is. However, further clues to solve the mystery and identify the murderer of Mr Spir Spiteri, are found in the animations accessed via augmented reality.

The children will have a blast when they hover over the pages with their parents' mobiles and see the pages come alive in front of them - as if by magic. The characters walk, talk and reveal, in every scene of the augmented reality animations, another puzzle piece of the mystery.

Augmented reality is remarkably easy to use. Anyone who has a mobile and internet access can make use of it. The book includes instructions on how to download the app and access the animations that drive the story.

The app, Flint (or Flint Malta for iOS), has been created by Flint Innovations Ltd, a start-up company that has applied this technology for Żahra's book. The app is compatible with both Android and iOS phones.

There is of course a reason why Trevor Żahra remains the most popular children's author across multiples generations. He is not content to repeat the same formula over and over, but treats every book as a novelty. And in Il-Misteru tas-Sur Spir Spiteri he combines Maltese storywriting with technology.

The illustrations are, needless to say, also by Żahra.

'Il-Misteru tas-Sur Spir Spiteri' is a Merlin Publishers publication and is available from all bookshops or directly online from www.merlinpublishers.com 
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