Skip to Main Content

Zara's Rules for Living Your Best Life

Book #3 of Zara's Rules
Illustrated by Wastana Haikal

About The Book

From the award-winning author of Amina’s Voice and Amina’s Song comes the third book in the charming middle grade Zara’s Rules series following Zara as she tries to save her spring break!

It’s spring break and Zara and Naomi have big plans…until Zara finds out that Naomi’s parents are sending her to camp and Zara and Zayd are going to spend the week with their grandparents. Zara’s pretty sure it’s a rule that spring break is supposed to be full of fun and adventure—not doing chores for Naano and watching Nana Abu doze on the couch! But ever since Nana Abu retired, it seems all he wants to do is eat and sleep, and Zara’s worried their grandfather has lost his mojo.

Meanwhile, Naomi’s having a blast at her day camp. Since Zara can’t join her, can Zara find a way to bring the fun of camp to her grandparents’ home? With a little help from Zayd, Zara concocts a plan that just might save her vacation—and help her grandfather start living his best life.


Chapter 1

Chapter 1
“How about a marble roller coaster?” Naomi suggests from her stool, where she’s swinging her legs back and forth.

“Yes!” Zayd cheers, before suddenly frowning and adding, “Wait. What’s that?”

We can’t help but laugh at my little brother, who has snuck into our clubhouse to listen to our conversation. Again.

“It’s a roller coaster for a marble,” Naomi explains. “You use stuff like foam and cardboard and make loops and hills to see how far you can get the marble to go.”

I ponder this as I bite into a sugar cookie, one of the snacks Naomi brought for us today. A marble roller coaster sounds less exciting than a real one. But it could still be fun to make. And if it turns out well, we could add it to the Brisk River Book of Neighborhood Records under “Most Amazing Marble Roller Coaster.”

“Let’s add it to the list,” I say.

Our list of “Things To Do Over Spring Break” is getting long already. Yesterday Jade added weaving friendship bracelets out of recycled plastic. Gloria wants to make homemade paletas, frozen fruity treats that she insists are better than flavored ice sticks. Alan said he’s going to organize an “epic” Easter egg hunt. That gave Jade the idea to add decorating eggs to the list. And since Zayd is still deciding what he wants us all to do together over break, I left the space for number five blank for him. Melvin is traveling to Korea over break, so his ideas for things to do aren’t on the list. And although Naomi’s brother, Michael, hasn’t come up with any suggestions yet, I know he’ll have something to say about everything we do. He’s in eighth grade already and has lots of opinions.

I write “marble roller coaster” on the whiteboard and stand back to admire the list. There’s no way this isn’t going to be the best spring break ever. None of the kids on our street can complain that we aren’t doing something that they want. We’ve included everyone, which is the number one neighborhood rule for having fun. And all the activities sound like they could be a good—and even delicious—time.

“What supplies do we need?” Naomi asks. “Let’s make sure we get everything ahead of time. We don’t want another piñata situation.”

I groan. Last summer we made a huge batch of glue mixture to craft a homemade piñata shaped like a strawberry. We followed step-by-step instructions from a video on YouTube. But since we didn’t have any balloons, we used an old beach ball and layered the newspaper, glue, and tissue on top of it. It looked seriously amazing when we were finished. You’re supposed to pop the balloon and take it out of the piñata when the glue is dry, and then you can put the candy inside. But the beach ball wouldn’t pop no matter what we did, so we couldn’t get to that step. Michael ended up shaking the bag of candy out around the yard instead. The candy flew everywhere, and everyone dove onto the grass and fought each other for it. Months later Melvin found a mini Tootsie Pop over by his garage.

“We’ll get all the things we need!” I promise. “It’s not that much. Except for maybe the roller coaster foam. And the eggs. And Popsicle sticks. But we still have a few days before break.”

“I’ll ask my mom if she can help us,” Naomi offers.

I already know that Mrs. Goldstein is ready to help. She has an entire cabinet full of crafting supplies. It’s like she’s just waiting for us to ask her for pipe cleaners or tissue paper or googly eyes. My mom’s answer when I ask her for stuff is usually “Check the garage,” but you’d be surprised by all the useful things I’ve managed to dig out of there.

“Let’s ask her now,” Naomi says. “And I want to get a drink.”

“Let’s go, Zayd,” I tell my brother. “Wipe up your crumbs, okay?”

The last thing we need is for Zayd to dirty up the clubhouse after we spent a whole hour spring cleaning it over the weekend. It’s looking great now that we swept out all the dead leaves and grass, dusted it, and wiped down the stools. We’ve got the whiteboard and our book of records in there, along with tennis balls and jump ropes. After our stools and a tiny tray table for snacks, there’s not much room for anything else. But it’s still the perfect place to make plans, hide out, and take a break from the sun. And it was one of Naomi’s best ideas ever to turn the old toolshed in her backyard into our fun-making headquarters.

“Hey, Mom?” Naomi asks as we head into her house and Zayd trots back across the street to our house. “Can you help us with supplies?”

“For what, honey?” Mrs. Goldstein asks. She’s in the kitchen, chopping up herbs and throwing them into a bowl.

“For all the activities we planned for spring break,” Naomi explains. “We need foam, Popsicle sticks, tape, and what else was there, Zara?”

About The Author

Photo (c) Havar Espedal

Hena Khan is a Pakistani American writer. She is the author of the middle grade novels Amina’s VoiceAmina’s Song, More to the Story, and the Zara’s Rules series and picture books Golden Domes and Silver LanternsUnder 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 or connecting with her @HenaKhanBooks.

About The Illustrator

Product Details

  • Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (March 21, 2023)
  • Length: 144 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534497658
  • Grades: 2 - 5
  • Ages: 7 - 10

Browse Related Books

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Hena Khan

More books from this illustrator: Wastana Haikal

More books in this series: Zara's Rules