Major and Mynah

Authored by Karen Owen
Illustrated by Louise Forshaw
Published by Firefly Press

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Major and Mynah is the first in a new junior detective series featuring a hard of hearing protagonist and fully illustrated throughout. This is a fast paced and engaging story highlighting positivity and teamwork which should appeal to newly independent readers.

Things are disappearing from the village in which nine-year-old Callie lives and a local thief is making things difficult for everyone. However, Callie, founder of the Super Perceptive Undercover Detectives (SPUD), has other things on her mind. She will shortly be receiving her new hearing aids, which she names ‘the slugs’, and is dreading the reaction from others when she wears them to school. When Callie befriends a stray mynah bird, she discovers that ‘the slugs’ have special powers that she could never have imagined and which will help her to solve the mystery and catch the thief. 

Detective stories allow young readers to follow clues and speculate on possible outcomes alongside the characters and Major and Mynah increases this involvement with illustrations by Louise Forshaw detailing mission reports and case files incorporated within the text. The presentation is attractive to those who find pages of dense text overwhelming too. Callie is a resilient and likeable character and her relationship with her best friend Grace is both realistic and kind. Bo, the Mynah bird, brings additional humour to the storyline and is key to the revelation of the magic quality that Callie’s hearing aids possess. With Callie now able to communicate with Bo in the sky it takes no time for the team of amateur sleuths to track down the mystery thief. 

Karen Owen has cleverly given Callie’s hearing aids a positive slant and key role in the plot and this together with the attitude of Grace and Callie’s family ensures that readers will gain an empathy with children who have hearing problems. It is of course also helpful for readers to see themselves in children’s fiction and Callie is an extremely positive role model for deaf children. The author’s own life experience ensures that this is all done with great sensitivity. There is mention of bullying, which is dealt with effectively, and also of grief through the death of Bo’s original owner and gently covered without drama.

Major and Mynah would be a useful addition to both school and class libraries combining as it does inclusivity in content and accessibility in presentation. A great read for lower KS2.

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