What is it?
A story book.
Who is it by?
Written by Heidi Shamsuddin, illustrated by Lim Lay Koon and published by Oyez!
What is it about?
This is the second book in The Door Under the Stairs series. In the first book, friends Emil, Joe and Hanna travel back in time to meet Tunku Abdul Rahman and help him find a suitable song for Malaysia’s national anthem.
In this book, the three friends go back in time to meet P. Ramlee, who has lost his confidence and thinks he needs his lucky sarong to be able to write and direct good films. The friends must help Ramlee regain his confidence and prove to him that he has a natural talent.
In the subplot, the bully Mark comes close to finding out their secret when he follows them through the door under the stairs, which serves as a time travel portal for the trio.
What can children learn from it?
This series is an excellent and effective tool to introduce Malaysian history and personalities to children. In addition, children will also learn not to be superstitious, to stand up to bullies and to help your friends.
I thought the concept of Mark actually being a lonely child who envied and admired Emil, Joe and Hanna was a good idea. It is a great way to help readers think about why bullies pick on others and helps them see things from a different perspective.
What did I like about it?
Author Heidi Shamsuddin seems to have wasted her early adult years going down other career paths. Storytelling is what she was born to do. She does it so well – her stories are filled with interesting characters, twists and turns, and subplots.
It would have been so easy for Heidi to make this book purely about the protagonists travelling back in time to meet P. Ramlee. There is enough entertainment value there, but Heidi has chosen to insert some lessons as well, which prove to be a bonus.
Additionally, there is the subplot which has enough drama and suspense to keep children turning the pages.
As if that wasn’t enough, she has introduced the idea that someone or something has been using the time travel portal to change history. This part of the story unfolds a little bit in each book, so readers will have to keep buying the other books in the series to find out what happens. You can imagine the possibilities for a big ending charged with action, adventure and drama!
Do I also detect a chance of puppy love among the characters? Time will tell.
There’s also some information at the back of the book about P. Ramlee and activities for children to do after reading the book.
Where to get it?
This book is available at http://www.oyezbookstore.com/.
Should you get it?
Buy the whole series.