Reviews /

Meet the Maliks – Twin Detectives: The Cookie Culprit

Authored by Zanib Mian
Illustrated by Kyan Cheng
Published by Hachette Children's Group

Tagged , , ,

Maysa Malik is the vibrant narrator for this detective story. She is a person who fizzes with energy and a warm humour, with a tendency to over dramatise. She often drifts off into daydreams when she should be focusing on schoolwork, and this, unwittingly, causes her, and sometimes her family, more than a few problems.

Musa, her twin brother, is her total opposite in as much that he is always focused. However hard she tries, Maysa just can’t seem to be good like her twin. So, when she isn’t allowed to go on a school trip, Maysa tries to change her parents’ minds by taking part in a cookie competition at the mosque. Sadly, all of the cookies are destroyed. So, Maysa, Musa, and their neighbour Norman, hunt down the dastardly perpetrator of this unforgivable crime.

Reading this book, brought to mind the CLPE’s ground breaking research: Reflecting Realities. The annual CLPE survey, funded by Arts Council England, launched in 2017 with the key focus of determining the extent and quality of ethnic minority characters featured within picturebooks, fiction and non-fiction for ages 3–11 published in the UK. Meet the Maliks, with its focus on Muslim characters, and Muslim faith and culture, is certainly one of the most inclusive books for children that I have read. Zanib Mian artfully fuses together engaging characters and a mildly intriguing plot, with information about Islamic faith and culture. Muslim children in many classes will be thrilled and delighted to read a book where the characters go to madrassah, prepare and share iftar, and take part in taraweeh prayers. The explanations, often accompanied by Kyan Cheng’s vibrant illustrations, help to make it easy for non-Muslim readers to gain a better understanding of Islam.

I gave this book to a Year 3 teacher to read with her culturally diverse class, and they loved it! Many of the children were delighted to see central characters whose lives reflected their own culture and practises reflected in print. They loved the story with its many humorous moments, and they particularly enjoyed how the family dynamics were presented. The class teacher agreed that this book was perfectly pitched for a Year 3 class in terms of language, structure and content. But, and maybe more importantly, she loved how engaged the children were with the story, regardless of their backgrounds.

Longlisted for the Spark Book Awards 2024 Fiction 7+ Category