Zara’s Rules For Finding Hidden Treasure by Hena Khan

with delightful illustrations by Wastana Haikal.

I’m a huge fan of the first book in this series, Zara’s Rules For Record-Breaking Fun, and finally, finally got my 11 year-old to start reading it when I asked him if he’d like to go to Hena Khan’s book signing with me. He was enthused, but I warned him that he’d have to have read at least book one first. The gratification I felt when he called out to me his excitement that the book was set in Maryland was extremely vindicating (even if his favorite character so far is Zayd, whom I’m hoping to gently point out to him is a lot more like his younger brother Joseph than he is, and so maybe he should be nicer to Joseph then?)

Zara’s Rules For Finding Hidden Treasure picks up from where the first one left off, with Zara getting a snazzy new bike for her birthday, then promptly having it stolen when she forgets to lock it at the park. Granted, she never had to lock her old beater bike, so it’s just a really unfortunate, if decidedly crappy, occurrence. Her parents, understandably, don’t want to just go out to buy a replacement for her. So with the help of her best friend Naomi and the other kids on her street, she starts brainstorming ways to raise money to buy a new bike.

After a few false starts, a travelling garage sale seems to be the best bet, with discarded items from both her household and Naomi’s. But when Zara discovers she’s made an awful mistake, will her dream of quickly getting a replacement bike disappear as swiftly as her last bike did?

This was another very cute middle-grade novel of Zara and her friends learning valuable lessons about growing up. There was a slightly larger emphasis on her Pakistani American family, as they planned a sweet anniversary celebration for her grandparents, partially inspired by Naomi’s older brother’s bar mitzvah — tho Zara is understandably disappointed that her family decides to forgo the cool disco ball for their own party. The multicultural gatherings and the neighborhood kids’ diversity make for constantly rewarding reading as they work and play and celebrate together. There’s also a cool subplot about multigenerational hoarding, with a humorous bit about Marie Kondo.

The book signing was rad, by the way, and despite my kid’s fidgeting and his springing of a new nickname for himself on me (a nickname that had me, the signing admin lady and Ms Khan herself visibly pausing despite our many combined years of dealing with kids. It’s not a rude name, just very gamer,) he said had a really good time, too. We picked up a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure type book from the merch stand outside afterwards, and look forward to getting it signed at her next event!

Zara’s Rules For Finding Hidden Treasure by Hena Khan was published October 18 2022 by Salaam Reads and is available from all good booksellers, including

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