Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Reba KhatunDawud and the Peculiar Case of the PetsMandy RabinMGMystery47000

When the pets are acting strangely or disappearing, Dawud’s on the case.

I am seeking representation for my #diverse middle grade mystery, DAWUD AND THE PECULIAR CASE OF THE PETS for ages 8-12 and complete at 47,000 words. 

Ten-year-old Dawud loves animals, so when local pets start disappearing, he’s worried for his own beloved kitten. Together with his best friend, Dawud investigates, evading his over-protective parents and discovering their town isn’t quite as ordinary as they thought. 

DAWUD AND THE PECULIAR CASE OF THE PETS is like Anisha Accidental Detective meets Planet Omar, Accidental Trouble Magnet. Dawud’s family are Bangladeshi Muslims like mine. I wrote this story because I want children like my daughters to see themselves represented in books. 

I won the 2009 Muslim Writers Award (MWA) sponsored by Penguin with a story featuring Dawud. An earlier version of this story was shortlisted for the 2011 MWA. I received Highly Commended in the 2017 Faber Andlyn BAME (FAB) Prize and won first prize in the 2018 FAB Prize. My poem ‘New Mother’ and artwork ‘Mended Heart’ are included in The Colour of Madness anthology (Stirling Publishing). My story ‘The Attack’ is published in The Best Asian Short Stories (2018) by Kitaab International. My middle grade contemporary was included in the TLC Free Reads anthology printed in partnership with the AM Heath Agency. I was selected as a mentee on the #WriteMentor programme. 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Kindest regards

Reba Khatun

Chapter 1

The Wild Man’s red eyes bulged and his mouth twisted in a snarl. He advanced with threatening steps, giving Dawud the shivers. Usually he wasn’t so easily scared. Vampires and monsters lived in his head all day long. He must be losing his touch.

Green slime covered the Wild Man’s putrid body and had it not been for the pane of glass between them, Dawud would’ve been overpowered with the stench of rotten flesh. Dawud’s breathing was shallow and fast, making him feel light-headed. He switched on his voice recorder. “The time is eighteen hundred hours, location bedroom. The Wild Man is travelling south and as of yet has no knowledge of being observed.” He flicked his long, black hair out of his eyes. 

At that precise moment, as if the Wild Man could hear him, his head snapped up and spotted Dawud at the window. Oh no! You were safe as long as he didn’t notice you. What should he do? Dawud’s heart galloped like a race horse and a whoosh of heat flooded his head. He had to save himself. 

Dawud dived off the chair and scuttled beneath the window. He put a hand on his chest to calm his pounding heart. The other hand brushed against the spiky leaves of a plant. 

Mum burst into the bedroom, shaking water droplets off her hands. Her bun had loosened and strands of hair framed her square face. “Up to no good again?” She scanned the room, the light reflecting off her glasses.

“Get down,” Dawud hissed, waving his arms. He got up and peered over the window-ledge. The Wild Man lifted his arm and shouted something at him. ‘Stay home. Monsters prowling the streets,’ was something he had taken to shouting lately. Was that what he was saying now? 

Dawud took a deep breath and prepared himself to look the Wild Man directly in his eyes, but by this time he had lost interest in him and moved past his house. Dawud slumped onto the chair and shut his eyes. 

Mum cleared her throat. 

Dawud had forgotten she was there. “Oh sorry, what were you saying?” He glanced over his shoulder. With her green outfit she blended perfectly with his leafy wallpaper.

“I heard a crash.” Mum picked up the clothes on the floor, chair and desk, and added them to the clothes on the bed. 

“I dived off the chair to hide from the Wild Man.”

Still holding a pajama top, Mum put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes. 

Oops. Dawud forgot about her views on using that term.

“Don’t call him that.” She waved the top in Dawud’s face making his nose tickle. 

The Wild Man was actually a normal man called Mr Mason. He was homeless and wandered the roads, muttering to himself or anyone he could find. His brown trench coat was grey with dirt and reeked if you got close enough. 

“Mr Mason is harmless.”