Little Badman and the invasion of the killer aunties by Humza Arshad and Henry White
Illus. by Aleksei Bitskoff. Puffin Books, 2019. ISBN: 9780241340608.
(Ages: 9-12) Highly recommended. Themes: Family relationships, Pakistanis in Great Britain, Rap music, Friendship, Missing persons, Good and evil. Humza Khan is a typical 11-year-old who is prone to making up stories and mucking around in class, but he does not see this as a problem because he knows he will one day be the most famous Rap artist the world has ever seen. He and his friends notice something funny happening at school when, one by one, the staff disappear and are replaced with Pakistani 'aunties' who seem determined to fatten up the children. The great food seems wonderful at first but slowly Humza, his friends Umer and Wendy realize it must be part of an evil plan. The friends are brought closer together by their need to solve this mystery. Humza's uncle, who is called Grandpa because of his aged appearance, is also a character that features in their hunt to find the truth.
Many Primary school boys will identify with Humza's character and through the story he grows as a person to know and fully appreciate his family through his adventures at school. As he says '. . . there is nothing in the world like an alien slug invasion to make you appreciate your loved ones . . . ' It is a fast-paced, rollicking story that will keep the audience reading to the end.
Throughout the story we are given glimpses of the Pakistani culture that forms so much of Humza's life in Britain. This may not be easy for children in Australia to understand but it could bring about some great discussion about immigration and refugees. The book is written in first person and would be a good story to read aloud with an upper primary class.
The author Humza Mohammed Arshad is an English actor, comedian and writer of Pakistani descent. He is best known for his web series Diary of a Bad Man (2010-2013) and Badman (2015-2018). Henry White is a comedy writer who has written for TV, on-line and most recently in children's fiction.