Anisha Accidental Detective was a lovely find for us last year as Littlefae took the family focused mystery to her heart and the follow up has been thoroughly enjoyed too. In fact it was partly because Littlefae added this to her special stash that it’s taken so long for me to read and review!! In fact book 3 comes out soon!
A brilliantly STEM embroidered #ownvoices sequel that addresses the pressures of being a ‘good girl’ and how others perceptions of you may be different from your own.
Anisha and Milo are excited to present their volcano experiment for the National Science Fair with new boy Govi. But then disaster strikes when setting up to practice the experiment, whilst rescuing Miss Bunsen from the science closet the whole school is flooded with foam!
Blamed for the wanton act of destruction and banned from the Science Fair, Anisha is devastated, but soon, with coaxing from Granny Jas and Auntie Bindi, she sets out to find out who sabotaged her experiment… and why.
” Too clever? Too clever? What is that? You can never be too clever, beta. Your brain is your superpower, its the thing that makes you special. Only you think like you!”
The Anisha Mysteries are a fantastic series for the 7-9 age group due to many factors from the playful illustrations by Emma McCann; the gentle non-murdery but rigorous mystery and steps to solve it with clues embedded throughout; and the role that family plays throughout. If that’s not enough the back includes home science experiments, fact files and even family recipes to further the fun!
However, Anisha can appeal much wider; older due to the richness of the storytelling, the layering of STEM into the book and Anisha being 11 and struggling with peer social issues about being ‘too clever’ in class and the nastiness from both Beema Bhatty and Auntie Bindi’s new step children.
The Empathy potential in this book is huge, not simply from immersion in the experience of a British-Indian child, but for children who may not be like Anisha and may not be positive to the higher achieving or gifted children in their classroom to see that a ‘brainy’ label can come much weight and woe, as indeed Anisha herself is guilty of bad opinion towards another intelligent child.
Equally it has been an absorbing bedtime readaloud for Tinyfae who is just turned 5 and thoroughly enjoyed the family scenes, the ‘problem’ and the gentle stretching of language.
Multigenerational, close and although sometimes distracted ultimately supportive British Indian family with a blended extended family reflects the reality of many British children in one way or another, and so is both a lovely way for empathy as both a mirror and a window into families.
In fact family is one of the key parts of this series that I love, whilst yes sometimes they are silly that is families! But Serena has taken time to create real dimensional family characters not cardboard props to put up occasionally in the background, whisk away for the plot to take place then bring in for reunion hug at the end. No, Anisha’s family is rounded and with depth and breadth of character and expression, and whilst she may get frustrated or embarrassed or overwhelmed, most importantly are 100% on her side.
Her mum and dad aren’t dolly-day-dreams, her granny isn’t a foil for humour; They fight her corner, encourage and support and lift her up throughout but they also trust her to make the right decisions, and that is the space that allows the plot to happen alongside them not in their absence, and THAT is just wonderful.
For us, Littlefae loves that Anisha’s grandmother lives with them, we are multigenerational ourselves with my parents and my adult autistic brother as one household by choice. So it’s lovely to see families that are in someways like ours reflected in fiction (Sam Wu is another series she loves for this) so this factor is very much appreciated by us and I suspect will in years to come as multi-generational families become more prevalent whether due to necessity or choice.
We are aching to find out what happens next on the family road trip Granny Trouble out VERY SOON and what kind of mysteries will need solving!!
Anisha Accidental Detective: School’s Cancelled by Serena Patel illustrated by Emma McCann is published by Usborne
Thank you Fritha Lindquist for my copy.