What to Read After… Look Up! 20/09/21
Publisher: Sweet Apple Publishing and Muslim Children's Books
Meet Omar, a funny, inquisitive and ordinary boy from an ordinary family who happens to be Muslim. Omar faces challenges in his new school, where he is told to go back to 'his own country' by class bully Daniel. But this is his country, and how could he possibly go 'back to Pakistan' when he's never been there, can't speak the language and the pizza is yuck?
The unusual thing about this book is that Omar is not defined in any way by the bullying or racism he experiences, and despite dealing with deep themes, it's as light as a feather and hilariously funny. It's a curious mixture that somehow works perfectly because of the charm of Omar... and the ending is as warm as toast.
Non-Muslim readers will find they've unconciously learned a massive amount about the Islamic faith and culture, while Muslim readers will have a wonderful (and sadly rare) experience of reading about a family like theirs.
Zanib Mian is a properly brilliant and funny new voice in children's fiction. At first glance this book might appear to be niche, but after reading the first couple of chapters it soon becomes apparent it has wide appeal. Kids who love Tom Gates will love Omar too.
Read it, laugh hysterically, and look out for more in the series.
Winner of the Little Rebels Award 2018.
This book has now been republished by Hodder Children’s Books as Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet (April 2019).