Book Review: A Hen in the Wardrobe by Wendy Meddour

Mul­ti­cul­tural children’s books can, sadly, be dif­fi­cult to find. A Hen in the Wardrobe is a fun, easy read for chil­dren, and despite its quirky title, is, at heart, about mixed fam­i­lies, cul­tural dif­fer­ences, com­mu­nity and accep­tance. There are also some nice lit­tle spot illus­tra­tions by the author dot­ted throughout.

Ramzi’s dad is act­ing very strangely. He climbs trees in the mid­dle of the night, and even goes into Ramzi’s wardrobe look­ing for a hen. The trou­ble is, he’s sleep­walk­ing because he’s home­sick for his native Alge­ria. So Ramzi, Dad and Mum go back to Dad’s Berber vil­lage in the desert region of North Africa, and Ramzi meets his Berber grand­mother and cousins, and even braves the scary She­herazad. But can Ramzi help his dad and what will hap­pen when they get back home again.

Ramzi lives hap­pily with his mother and father in Eng­land. But lately Ramzi’s father has been sleep­walk­ing, a sign of just how much he has been miss­ing his fam­ily back in Alge­ria. Together, they decide to visit his child­hood home and Ramzi gets to meet his many Aunts, Uncles, cousins and his Nanna for the first time since he was a baby. Along the way he has a few adven­tures, makes some new friends, and runs into some very strange characters.

The story is, at times, a lit­tle ran­dom, but Med­dour gives the reader some fas­ci­nat­ing glimpses into life as a Mus­lim in Eng­land and the Berber cul­ture, which some chil­dren may be unfa­mil­iar with. Along­side Ramzi we expe­ri­ence a lit­tle of their way of life in Alge­ria and Med­dour weaves in infor­ma­tion about their call to prayer, the wed­ding sea­son, tra­di­tional child­hood games, Mus­lim dress and so on. There is also a great sec­tion at the back of the book, writ­ten by Ramzi him­self, that explains cer­tain phrases or words that can be found through­out the story.

I really liked that this was a children’s book about a multi-racial fam­ily and that it looks at some of the dif­fi­cul­ties that can arise when half the fam­ily feels at home in one coun­try, and the other half feels more at home halfway across the world. I also really liked the par­tic­u­larly close rela­tion­ship between Ramzi and his father. A Hen in the Wardrobe prob­a­bly isn’t des­tined to become a favourite, but it is well worth a read, par­tic­u­larly if you are look­ing for a children’s book that sub­tly intro­duces a young reader to dif­fer­ent cultures.

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Review orig­i­nally posted at Mostly Read­ing YA

*Many thanks to Mostly Read­ing YA and the pub­lisher for send­ing this through for review*

4 thoughts on “Book Review: A Hen in the Wardrobe by Wendy Meddour

  1. Wendy Meddour

    Thank you for tak­ing the time to review my debut book, Amy! You’re clearly a very care­ful reader and was lovely to hear your take on it. The next in the series, The Black Cat Detec­tives, is out in August and I’d really love to hear what you think — more mul­ti­cul­tural may­hem and pos­si­ble ran­dom­ness *cheeky wink* x

    Reply
    1. Amy Post author

      You’re wel­come — I’ll keep an eye out for your next book :) My friends all love the title of this by the way — it makes them happy (I have strange and rather crazy friends — they got all excited when they saw it in the bookstore…)

      Reply

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