Mission Mayhem by Burhana Islam (illustrated by Farah Khandaker)
| Published by Knights Of (April 2021)
| A review by Sophie Hanif
| Young writer and winner of the 2020 Young Muslim Writers Awards, Short Story Ages 7-11
Meet Yusuf and his best friend, his older sister Affa.
Together we explore their world, through a 6 week window of his summer holidays, during which Affa gets married. Watch as Yusuf matures and assumes Affa’s responsibilities reluctantly, although sometimes his pranks get a little bit out of hand! Have a laugh at the funny jokes, western references with a Bengali twist; Sheik Google and Shaytaan, and slap stick comedy that will unfold, also reflected in the typography.
This is a story to tell to your family and friends, how Yusuf causes chaos at the wedding, to protect his sister from leaving him forever.
Yusuf is a boy with a great imagination and smart analysis to different situations.
“Mission Operation: To Stop Wedding. Buy an X-Box and lots of games so Affa’s money will run out.”
He loves food and makes reference to it all the time. He has secret stashes in his room. He shares food with his sister, which shows how much he loves her.
“The saucy goodness escaped from her mouth and almost fell on to the table, but I caught it just in time with my finger, and stuck it into my chip.”
Yusuf is preparing to assume Affa’s role, since she will leave to be a wife. “Man of the House”, requires lots of responsibility, as well as status in the family. While reluctantly carrying the shopping in, his grandma tells off Affa, for not doing it herself, even though she is doing the washing. The fact that Yusuf corrected Affa from 2 shopping bags to 3 made her stick her tongue out. His grandma shook the walls in anger as she saw Affa stick her tongue out at Yusuf.
“Have you no shame. You are about to become a married woman. What on earth are you playing at? Do you want to be divorced before you can say ‘Qobul’?”
Burhana Islam’s unique style of writing is direct and engaging.
“Level 4 of anger is coming! Man down! Man down!”
Yusuf compares himself to Spiderman or “Mowgli on a sugar rush” as he prepares to sabotage the wedding. He describes his bride sister as “wearing a big orange dress that looked like a jalebi.” These visual descriptions are also depicted as funny drawing in the book. The cartoon style drawing matches the type of humour. The fonts vary reflecting the tone and emotion of speech. The childish hand written pieces make Yusuf’s character more real.
This is a touching and heart warming story, I would recommend to everybody.