Agent Zaiba Investigates is a fantastically fun and uplifting detective mystery story, an exciting and bright read for readers aged 8 and up, whilst accessible for younger children with a strong reading ability who are looking for slightly more challenge and stamina building.
The bonus is there are illustrations throughout in black and white too which is wonderful! Both Littlefae and I ADORED this book and I hope that many other children do too!
Even more exciting for educators & librarians is that Annabelle and Daniela will also be featuring Agent Zaiba in Authorfy‘s Spring Line-up of masterclasses!
Zaiba, her family and her best friend Poppy are gathered at The Royal Star Hotel to celebrate a Mehndi Party as part of her cousin Samirah’s upcoming marriage to Tanvir.
But this is no ordinary family event, yes of course there’s dad dancing and amazing food but aspiring Agent Zaiba is excited because this hotel was the setting for one book of her favourite author’s mystery novels!
When they hear a celebrity is staying at the hotel at the same time, the mystery to discover who it is turns into a crime to uncover as the celebrities dig along with a priceless diamond collar disappear.
Can Zaiba, her brother Ali and Poppy combine their sleuthing talents and save the day?
Agent Zaiba Investigates follows a classic detective style but within a contemporary setting following clues, finding signs and puzzling over red herrings even coming to the classic denouement where the characters gather in one room to unveil the culprit! This is so brilliant because introducing these tropes via books like Agent Zaiba Investigates will set readers up beautifully for the style of timeless and popular mystery thrillers as they get older.
The stakes are less gory but are still very exciting – celebrities and missing diamonds. This gentler approach around family will be better for those who may not be quite ready for the death factor of murder mysteries that say High Rise Mystery or the Murder Most Unladylike series offer.
With thrilling secret passages, labyrinths and a dastardly plan to unravel this is an exhilarating adventure that will please young mystery fans and the soft playful illustrations by Daniela Sosa add plenty of character and offer moments to pause in between reading to help build stamina too.
Furthermore, it is cleverly written to appeal wider to those who may enjoy family based dramas through the idea of Zaiba’s blended family, with hints of mystery of what happened to her birth mother and the events that play havoc with her cousins wedding celebrations and then the star element because of the celebrity guest. The family elements make this a particularly warm and cosy read amidst the mystery & drama.
Representation matters as it is so important that children can see themselves in positive and resonating ways within stories they read and those stories to be about fun things too!
That is why it will be such a positive and empowering thing for young British-Pakistani children to read Agent Zaiba Investigates and see children and families who take part in familiar events, dress and eat the things that their families do AND not only being the heroes but having amazing adventures and heartwarming, positive stories too.
It’s also important to point out that whilst being excellent for representation, Agent Zaiba Investigates is such an engaging, inspiring and exciting universal story for all children!
Having diverse and inclusive books (and toys!) is something I’ve felt strongly about as a parent to offer a range of experiences to my children so they can see toys and stories acting as both a mirror and a window, and more often than not seeing some reflection of ourselves in windows which in turn builds community and empathy.
Though we do not share Zaiba’s background, Littlefae was immediately drawn to and delighted by this story, because she LOVES detective stories and immediately identified with Zaiba for her love of solving mysteries and being a big sister.
I thought it was clever the way Zaiba takes us through a day and the meaning in the experience of a Mehndi ceremony, cleverly using the role of Poppy as a friend from outside the culture to ask questions that readers (including Littlefae) may be thinking as well as Zaiba offering explanation by way of her internal dialogue, marking time milestones and narration.
Littlefae thinks Zaiba is absolutely awesome and has been acting the story out, even putting to good use a toy phone to act like Zaiba speaking her notes.
I like Zaiba she’s clever and she likes to read mysteries. I like how she writes down what she sees and works out the clues.
We were also delighted to find an amazing section at the back filled with notes and tips on how to be a detective from learning codes to making a home-made fingerprint kit and is just a lovely touch to inspire enthusiastic readers to evoke their inner Zaiba!
Overall, if you have a young mystery fan this a series that offers so much fun but is also well-written for pace and peril, seeding clues and making it a proper mystery for readers to piece together. We will definitely be looking forward to investigating much more with Agent Zaiba!
Agent Zaiba Investigates: The Missing Diamonds by Annabelle Sami and Daniela Sosa is published by Stripes
Thank you so much for our copy. 💜