Today we are chatting with Hena Khan, author of ZARA’S RULES FOR FINDING HIDDEN TREASURE
Read on for more about her, the book, and a giveaway!
Meet Hena Khan:
Hena Khan is a Pakistani American writer. She is the author of the middle grade novels Amina’s Voice, Amina’s Song, More to the Story, and the Zara’s Rules series and picture books Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, Under My Hijab, and It’s Ramadan, Curious George, among others. Hena lives in her hometown of Rockville, Maryland, with her family. You can learn more about Hena and her books by visiting her website at HenaKhan.com or connecting with her @HenaKhanBooks
About the Book: ZARA’S RULES FOR FINDING HIDDEN TREASURE
From the beloved author of Amina’s Voice comes the second book in the delightful Zara’s Rules middle grade series following Zara as she starts her own business!
Zara lives for bike rides with her friends—so when her shiny, brand-new bike goes missing from the park one day, she’s crushed. After her parents insist she earn the money for another one herself, Zara’s determined to start a business. But what kind? A lemonade stand? Not profitable enough. Selling painted rocks? Not enough customers.
Zara’s starting to get discouraged when she and her friend Naomi finally come up with the perfect idea: The Treasure Wagon, a roving garage sale that unloads knickknacks from the Saleem family basement and makes money all at once! But when a mix-up gets Zara in hot water again, will she have to give up everything she’s earned toward her new bike?
What gave you the inspiration to write Zara’s Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure?
When I was a kid, my friend and I used to paint rocks, which we then tried to sell to our neighbors along with other random crafts and decorations. We were convinced it was a brilliant business idea, but it failed miserably. Reflecting on that experience, and the crammed storage room filled with junk in my childhood home, made me think about trash versus treasure, and what we value and why, which led to the inspiration for this book.
Who is your favorite character in Zara’s Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure?
That’s a tough one since I love them all like my own family, but my favorite character to write is Naano, Zara’s grandmother. She is blunt, unpredictable, and hilarious, much like my own mother—who is the real-life character behind the character. And she is nothing like the typical grandmother you expect to see in stories!
Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel came first, but I’m so happy with the title, and the fact that it has both a literal and figurative meaning. I’m also in love with the stunning cover art by Wastana Haikal and can imagine poring over every detail as a kid. Plus, the gold foil treatment is just perfect.
What scene in Zara’s Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure you most proud of, and why?
There’s a scene where Zara attends her neighbor Michael’s bar mitzvah ceremony and party, and I loved describing the celebration through Zara’s eyes and introducing both Jewish and Muslim traditions, while moving the story forward and setting up a future scene. I was thrilled when my Jewish author friend Laura Gehl fact checked it for me and said I captured the essence of the event accurately.
Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
A scene that was emotional for me to narrate was Zara’s grandparent’s anniversary party. In it, I briefly describe a slide show, which includes real photos from my parents’ albums, along with fictional ones I mixed in. I wrote the scene while imagining my parents and how they would act and react to the festivities and attention, but I lost my father several years ago, before my parents could celebrate their own golden anniversary. Depicting the scene felt very bittersweet to me, like a false but wishful memory.
Which character gave you the most trouble when writing Zara’s Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure?
I ordinally struggle a lot when drafting my novels and expected this book to be no different. Most of my characters give me trouble at various points, and I agonize at times. This book, however, was a rare joy for me to write since I found myself both entertained and energized during the entire process. Kids always ask me “what is your favorite book that you wrote?” and I’ve never had an answer before. But now I can truthfully say that it is this book, perhaps because I thoroughly enjoyed writing it and am so pleased with how it turned out.
What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from Zara’s Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure?
I honestly don’t have a message, but it would be cool if my readers were moved to think about what they truly treasure and what brings them the most joy in life—and to perhaps see their possessions as less important than the memories they make with loved ones. I hope they remember Zara’s family as one that they connect with and would love to know in real life.
Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I’m honored to have joined the board of We Need Diverse Books recently and am proud of the important work they are doing to help change the landscape of children’s publishing to be more inclusive, and to push back against harmful trends like book banning.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
It’s always nerve-wracking to have a new title release, no matter how much I look forward to it as an author, and that’s why reviews and feedback mean so much to me! I’m always grateful to hear from readers and appreciate all of you.
Title: Zara’s Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure
Author: Hena Khan
On-sale date: October 18, 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Salaam Reads
Three (3) winners will receive a copy of Zara’s Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure (Hena Khan) ~US ONLY *No P.O. Boxes allowed
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*