Mayhem Mission

Authored by Burhana Islam
Illustrated by Farah Khandaker
Published by Knights Of

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Mayhem Mission is a hilarious book that is full of life and family love. It tells the story of Yusuf Ali Khan and his desperation to sabotage his sister’s wedding so that he won’t then have to become the responsible “man of the house”, when she moves out of the family home.

I have talked non stop about this book, since I have read it. It is the first middle grade book, to my knowledge, to focus on a British Bangladeshi family. It is, however, a book that all children will be able to relate to. Our protagonist Yusuf is a clumsy, fun loving boy, who is desperate to gain street cred. His crazy ideas get him into heaps of trouble. And his mouth often runs faster than his brain, putting him in a lot of awkward situations. I can honestly say, that it’s been a long time since I laughed so much at a book. Yusuf is extremely endearing and anyone reading the book will instantly recognise his characteristics in children around them. His love of jaffa cakes, Avengers and chicken samosas; his need to prove himself to try and be cool and his nightly eczema routine, all make him seem like a typical child in your class or the boy next door.

Mayhem Mission is also, in the words of the author “unapologetically Muslim”. It doesn’t tackle islamophobia or stereotypes head on. But through Yusuf’s chatter and questioning about his religion, it gives the reader an insight into the life of a Muslim child and the importance they often place on their faith. We see regular use of Bangla and Arabic words, which are explained throughout to allow non Bengali speakers to understand what is being said.

As a British Bangladeshi this book hit all the right notes, reflecting much of my childhood throughout. My dad would often shout “Ey furi!” (oi girl/daughter) when he was cross with me. And he still loves to grow khodus and naga plants, like Yusuf’s Amma. I also saw my grandmother reflected in Yusuf’s dear Nanu. The loving sibling rivalry reflects brothers and sisters of all cultures. It’s a joy to read a book with family at the heart of it.

Burhana has struck a perfect balance with chaotic antics, fun loving characters and really memorable moments. Meanwhile Farah’s illustrations break up the book perfectly, making it ideal reading for pleasure for KS2 children.

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