Diverse Books, Middle Grade Books

Agent Zaiba Investigates: The Haunted Mansion by Annabelle Sami – Book Review

Thank you to little tiger books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When a new family moves to the village, Zaiba is intrigued to hear about the strange happenings in their home. Things go missing, objects are smashed and unfriendly messages are painted on the walls. There have always been rumours that the house is haunted, but is a ghost really causing all this trouble? Zaiba and her team are convinced that the culprit is very much alive – and won’t stop until they get what they want…

This is the third book in the series and I just love them so much! The stories are fun and exciting and also have such wonderful Pakistani culture rep. I love seeing a young Pakistani girl aspire to be a detective and follow in her mums and aunts footsteps.

This story had some new characters and I really loved seeing Zaiba’s detective agency grow. Honestly we don’t give kids enough credit they are smart and resourceful and can achieve so much more than we believe they can. They also know how to have fun as evidenced by the fact that they have so much fun at the party while investigating the haunted house!

This book introduced new kids and we see how some of them get a long immediately and some take time to learn to work together and it was great to see both sides and show how kids are different. We also get a bit of discussion about jinns and Islamic folklore so that was so great to see because I grew up with jinn stories as opposed to ghost stories and honestly this is why we need representation. So many of us grew up with jinn stories but it’s never in spooky kids books.

The story and how the kids have to catch who is haunting the house was so much fun and how they discovered the history and secret passages in the house. Zaiba is such an observant child and she picks up on so much and it’s so much fun to see them working out what’s happening. Ali is another character I love because for someone so young he picks up so many facts about all different things that end up being useful in catching the person. I love how they kids support each other and work off each others strengths and weaknesses. How Zaiba knows which of them is best for the each job.

This story like the first two is so much fun to read and I love the illustrations too. I love that we get to see Zaiba in Pakistani clothes and that she is told she looks beautiful and not made to feel as though she doesn’t fit in because she lives in the west. Everyone needs a friend like Poppy! I love Poppy because she loves make up and accessories and getting dressed up and she isn’t looked down for it. Contrasting with Zaiba who prefers to wear what’s comfortable and somehow always gets her clothes dirty. Neither is looked down on and it will be so important for kids to see that whatever they enjoy it is accepted.

I just need you all to go read these wonderful books and to give them to all the kids you know!

Books by Muslim Authors, Middle Grade Books

Agent Zaiba Investigates The Poison Plot by Annabelle Sami – Book Review

This is book two in the Agent Zaiba Investigates series. You can read my review for the first book here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Determined to be the world’s greatest detective, Zaiba is always on the lookout for a crime to solve!

Zaiba can’t wait for the school summer fair where she’s going to run a detective trail to help train other potential agents! But when the head teacher is poisoned during the highly competitive cake competition, Zaiba’s own skills are put to the test. With a whole host of suspects and a busy crime scene, Zaiba needs to stay focused if she’s going to get to the bottom of the cake catastrophe…

I love this series so much! This is exactly the type of book I would have loved to read when I was a kid because all I had was Secret Seven and while I loved them, to see Zaiba who is Pakistani and wears salwar kameez and is fully immersed in her culture would have been incredible to be able to read.

Zaiba is a wonderful character, she is smart and passionate and dedicated to finding the truth. She has a wonderful relationship with her family and a great female friendship. I also related to her mixed complicated feelings towards her cousin who doesn’t always get along with them but maybe there is something more to how she behaves with them and Zaiba slowly sees that.

It was so wonderful to see parents who are involved in the story and a part of the kids lives. So often the parents are absent in stories but we also need to see healthy relationships in books and this series does that. The way both Zaiba and Ali interact with their dad shows how close they are and that their step mum is a wonderful parent to them too. It was also great to see that it was the dad and son who took part in the baking content especially as in Asian culture there is often this stigma around boys cooking so to see it celebrated was so wonderful.

This book is set at Zaiba’s school and it brought back memories of the school summer fair that would happen when I was at school. It was great to see a book set in an environment that is so familiar to kids and adults alike and that Zaiba was in charge of the scavenger hunt which she put so much effort into. I loved how we see so many parents involved in the kids lives at the school.

We see Zaiba investigate the poisoning and we see how she immediately wants to find out what has happened. She is brave and smart and determined. I love how passionate she is about what she loves doing and how she is so driven. I loved seeing how she is inspired by her aunt who is a role model for her to become a detective. It’s so great to see that Zaiba had someone like her aunt to look up to.

I just really love these books and how incredible they are at making me feel so seen and truly wish I had them when I was younger. If you know any kids please give these books to them because honestly everyone deserves to see themselves in books.