The second in this series sees science loving Anisha hoping to represent her school in the forthcoming science fair. However all does not go as planned and Anisha soon finds that her detective skills will be required to sort out the muddle. Full of humour, this fast paced story with its likeable lead is great fun for readers aged 8 plus.
Firstly, a confession, I have not read the first in the series and happily it did not affect my enjoyment at all, this book works well as a stand alone. However I feel sure that young readers would enjoy this so much they will want to read the first and indeed the third book, a taster of which is included in the final pages of School’s Cancelled!
In this sequel Anisha can’t wait to show off her volcano project at the science fair and, she hopes, maybe win the prize trip to the national space centre. But when the volcano explodes and floods the school, Anisha is disqualified. She knows that it wasn’t her fault so feels that this is unfair. Together with her best friend Milo, his pet rat, and a high-school vlogger she sets out to catch the true culprit. Interspersed with the mystery and the school setting is Anisha’s home life which adds so much to the enjoyment. The multi generational family, the forthcoming birthday celebrations for Grandma and the friction with newly acquired ‘cousins’ give the story an added depth. The reader feels immersed in and part of this bustling, warm and likeable family.
Serena Patel has drawn from her own experience to create this narrative and thus allow children to see themselves in an adventure that is accessible and enjoyable for all. This is not an issues driven drama but a highly amusing, kind story starring in Anisha a ten year old British Indian girl from a mixed Punjabi and Gujarat background. At a time when only 4 per cent of children’s books feature a character from a minority ethnic background this is vitally important. In addition I love the narration by Anisha as Serena Patel has, I think, captured the voice of a girl this age wonderfully well. I can hear children I have taught in her speech and manner and this makes the book feel believable and will do so for young readers too. In addition to being likeable and relatable Anisha is also an inspiring role model, an added bonus.
The book is illustrated throughout by Emma McCann and her entertaining and amusing touch adds to the overall enjoyment. The use of fonts, the helpful footnotes describing the different foods and the science experiment and recipe complete the package and make this even more inviting to children. Having read only good things about the first in the series I was hoping that this would be an enjoyable read. It was, very much so and I would recommend this to children aged 8 upwards. A lovely, happy book with a thoughtful message for its readers.
I should like to thank Fritha Lindqvist and Usborne Books for my review copy.
You may enjoy this interview with Serena Patel in the Federation of Children’s Book Groups website in which she explains how she became a published author.