Published by Usborne

Key words: detectives, funny, friends, family, weddings, British-Indian families, pets

Age range: 8 – 11 ish

Busy teacher? Skip to the bottom of the page for the summary.

Recently, my 8 year old has been asking for funny books. Can you blame him? School’s stopped, then come back again, there’s a weird virus thing that is very boring and means he can’t do the activities he enjoys, hug his grandparents or fly to see his other grandparent abroad. Everything is scary and confusing. What you need in times like this is a really funny book, one that makes you laugh out loud, with a madcap plot, wacky characters (bonus points if an escaped lobster is involved), and a good old-fashioned detective story at the heart of it. Luckily, Anisha is here to save the day.

Cover of Anisha, Accidental detective by Serena Patel (7+ age range). Pink with yellow writing. Characters are drawn cartoon style. Anisha is an Indian girl in a demin jacket and black leggings; she is showing a poster to her friend Milo, a boy with red curly hiair, holding a cat.

Anisha’s a normal girl in a big, loving family that’s way over the top. And now they’re even more over the top because her aunty Bindi is getting married and has turned into a real Bridezilla. Among all the visiting relatives, tasty cooking, parties, pre-parties and sub-parties that make up an Indian wedding, Anisha’s main worry is how to get out of wearing the bright, tinselly lengha her parents want her to wear for the big day. That’s until, right in the middle of all the wild whirlwind of  wedding preparation, she gets a secret message telling her that someone has kidnapped the groom! It’s straight out of a Bollywood film, but the last thing Anisha wants is more drama, so with the help of Milo Moon, her best friend, she sets out to find the criminal herself. You’ll have to read the book to find out how the lobster fits in!

Cover of the second book: Anisha Accidental Detective, school's cancelled. Same style as the previous, yellow with blue writing. Anisha and Milo are holding a school project, a volcano which is exploding everywhere.

I enjoyed this book as much as my 8 year-old, not least because I felt Anisha’s pain at having to wear the lengha. In my case it was a lurid purple shalwar khamiz with gold lace trimmings, which hits hard when you are a moody teenager trying to channel Nirvana (though actually I reckon Kurt could have styled it out). It’s amazing and wonderful to see how Asian children’s everyday lives and dramas (as well as the not-so everyday ones, like solving a kidnapping mystery) are finally being reflected in literature. It’s impossible to value this representation and sense of being seen and heard, too highly, or properly explain the difference it makes to a reader, to be able to see themselves in books. When that comes wrapped up in a  brightly coloured package of fun, humour and more facts about lobsters than you could possibly have imagined existed, there’s really nothing better.

Teacher TL:DR

A really funny detective series for readers in KS2. This is a great choice to get children hooked on a series to help them establish a reading habit. It’s a good mental health choice in the current climate too, as it is very light-hearted– the kidnapping plot is on a Scooby-doo level of danger. Includes facts about animals (especially lobsters) and Indian culture (especially weddings). There’s a quiz and other fun stuff at the back of the book. The second book: ANISHA, ACCIDENTAL DETECTIVE: SCHOOL’S CANCELLED is out now. If you want even more shenanigans at Asian weddings (perhaps a themed library display?) for 8 – 11s, I suggest AGENT ZAIBA INVESTIGATES by Annabelle Sami.

See Usborne’s website for more information, resources and to buy the book directly!

Published by Leila from Megaphone

Writer and runs Megaphone: a writer development scheme for people of colour who want to write for children. Tweets @MegaphoneWrite and @LeilaR

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