Set in Wales and charting the positive effect of Panjabi dhol music on a girl who we are told hates music, this story clearly has good intentions. Megan’s family all play instruments and love music. She positively hates music and avoids it whenever possible, until she hears dhol drums being played by a local band, the Urban Turbans. (Megan’s family have just moved from a rural to an urban setting so that provides another strand to the narrative.) From then on she is obsessed with wanting to play the dhol and as luck would have it, gets a chance to do so with that very band.
This title is badly let down by the cover and the first couple of chapters. The simplistic scene setting at the beginning doesn’t ring true; that and negative stereotyping prevents one forming any attachment to the narrative or the main character, Megan. A pity, because from Chapter 4 onwards the writing improves and one does begin to get interested in Megan’s excitement about hearing and playing the dhol. We get a real sense of her new found interest, of her anxieties about belonging, about being part of the dhol band and performing in front of a large audience. A number of other small but irksome details make this a disappointing read. The uniform faces of all characters in the illustrations, for example; the typeface used for the title – a cursive style, which if it’s supposed to be reminiscent of Urdu or Arabic is at odds with the picture of turbaned Sikhs on the cover. It’s to be hoped that any further titles planned will have more inviting covers and writing that engages the reader from the word go.