Cover Reveal: Zara’s Rules for Record-Breaking Fun by Hena Khan

Hello, Hena Khan! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read.! Thank you again for appearing on Book Joy Live! It was so much fun celebrating books with you and Elisabeth Stayer. Speaking of celebrating books, congratulations on the FUN cover for Zara’s Rules for Record-Breaking Fun. I love Wastana Haikal’s illustration! 

Hena Khan: Thank you so much for sharing it! I love the energy and humor in Wastana’s illustration! It captures the essence of Zara, a kid who is trying to do everything and trying to impress her friends in the neighborhood. And her gigantic smile is just screaming, “LOOK AT ME!” which is so funny to me.


Scenario: Imagine a bookseller at Curious Iguana Bookstore asks you to fill out a shelftalker about Zara’s Rules for Record-Breaking Fun.

Hena Khan: Pick this up for a light, humor-filled escape into the world of Zara, a girl with a big heart and even bigger plans for how to have the best summer possible, while securing her spot as the fun-leader of her neighborhood! Perfect for fans of Ryan Hart and The Vanderbeekers.


Please finish the following sentence starters: 

Zara Saleem is a kid with big ideas on how things should work. Unlike some of my characters who are pursuing a passion, Zara has tried, and quit, a bunch of activities. She’s left with a random assortment of budding skills and half-developed hobbies. But these come in handy when she’s hatching plans for herself, her family, and her gang of neighborhood friends. This series was inspired by my love for Ramona Quimby—especially her ingenuity and antics. I love stories for kids with lots of play and the joys of being a child, and I hope readers will fall in love with Zara and her stories!

Did you know that Zara is the sister of Zayd Saleem, so you get to hang out with the family you met in the Chasing the Dream series, including their grandparents and hilarious uncle? I drew heavily from my family when coming up with some of these characters, so they feel very real to me—especially Naano, who is a LOT like my mother. I’d never laughed aloud while writing before but working on Zara’s series, and sprinkling in family jokes and expressions that my mother says, has brought me so much happiness.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if I’ve ever broken any world records. The answer, sadly, is a big no. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying! My childhood friend, who is the model for Zara’s soon-to-be best friend Naomi, and I spent hours coming up with the next greatest idea to break a record. And Zara’s plan to hula hoop for the longest time ever in history, and the disastrous little brother induced outcome, came straight from my life. I love getting to rewrite parts of childhood that weren’t always rosy or perfect but filled with wonder and charm and big realizations about the world.


Hena Khan is a Pakistani American writer. She is the author of the middle grade novels Amina’s Voice, Amina’s Song, and More to the Story and picture books Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns and Under My Hijab. Hena lives in her hometown of Rockville, Maryland, with her family.


Look for Zara's Rules for Record-Breaking Fun on April 19, 2022.

Simon & Schuster's Description:


From the beloved author of Amina’s Voice comes an all-new middle grade series starring a young Muslim girl determined to break a Guinness World Record and prove she’s still the master of fun among the neighborhood kids.

Zara Saleem is the queen of the neighborhood.

Zara’s in charge of it all: she organizes the games, picks the teams, and always makes sure everybody is having a good time…her way.

Until a new family moves in across the street and suddenly Zara’s reign is threatened by Naomi, who seems to have lots of good ideas about how the neighborhood kids can have fun. To reclaim her crown, Zara decides she’s going to break a Guinness World Record to get everyone to notice her again.

But as her friends abandon her for Naomi’s better ideas, Zara starts to wonder whether being a good friend might be more important than getting everybody to follow her rules.

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