Zara’s Rules for Record-Breaking Fun by Hena Khan, illustrated by Wastana Haikal

Published by Salaam Reads

Summary:  Zara lives on a street with several other kids, including her brother Zayd who will grow up to star in his own series.  Before her neighbor Mr. Chapman moved away, he called Zara “Queen of the Neighborhood” and said she ruled with grace and fairness.  A new family moves into Mr. Chapman’s house, and the two kids become part of the neighborhood. Naomi, who is Zara’s age, has enough good ideas for Zara to feel threatened in her role as queen.  Inspired by her uncle’s Guinness Book of World Records, Zara decides to try to set a world record in an attempt to shine the spotlight on herself once again.  As a solo effort, the plan is a failure, but when she starts including her friends, both old and new, it’s a runaway success.  Book 2 will be out in October. 133 pages; grades 2-4.

Pros:  The author cites Beverly Cleary’s Ramona stories as an inspiration, and this book does have that feel to it, with a strong-willed protagonist and a close-knit family and neighborhood.  Unlike Klickitat Street, there’s some diversity in the neighborhood, including Zara’s Pakistani American family.  The plentiful illustrations will appeal to early chapter book readers.

Cons:  As much as I love books like these, I struggle to sell them to kids, who seem to almost always opt for graphic novels instead.

One thought on “Zara’s Rules for Record-Breaking Fun by Hena Khan, illustrated by Wastana Haikal

  1. Oh, no! I think that these would be perfect for elementary readers. It seemed a tiny bit young for my stduents, also the Zayd Saleem series does well since it has basketball. I wish that readers would be more open to books that aren’t graphic novels. I would have adored this in elementary school.

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