Hear from one of our passionate young readers!
"This book is dedicated to all the children who ever felt that being different is a negative thing" - Zanib Mian
Written by Zanib Mian and illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik, Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet, is the first book of the series which give us a unique insight into the world of a South Asian family settled in the UK.
The book is written from the perspective of Omar, a young boy of about 10 years of age, who along with his Mum, Dad, older sister and younger brother, has just moved to a new neighborhood and started a new school. Omar's parents are scientists and their familial home has a warm, loving feel to it with loads of fun times and rib-tickling humour.
Omar is rather good at imagining things, something he uses as a security blanket to keep himself happy during stressful times. For example, while Omar is not very happy about joining a new school, he tries to buoy his spirits by imagining that he's riding to school on top of a dragon he has named H2O! At school, Omar quickly makes friends with a red-haired kid named Charlie, and with his easy-going temperament and the fact that he's bright, Omar becomes quite popular in his class.
However, not everybody likes Omar. The class bully, Daniel Green, makes Omar miserable at school and threatens to kick him out of the country. This worries Omar greatly, but he doesn’t tell his parents because he thinks that they have enough to deal with already. The family’s next door neighbour, Mrs. Rogers, isn’t too fond of them either. She is an old lady who refused to even speak to the family and she's always spying on them and referring to them as "The Muslims" in a rather condescending manner.
As events unfold, both Mrs. Rogers and Daniel get over their prejudice and start appreciating Omar and his family. But to know how that happens, you will have to read the book.
Written in a lighthearted and fun manner, this book shares the profound message of tolerance, kindness and acceptance. Omar's family, though facing discrimination, do not turn bitter and are there to extend a helping hand to the people who don't like them because of their ethnicity, and it gives the message that kindness can win over the hearts of people.
Another important theme within the book is that we should try to understand the people around us, because understanding is what leads to acceptance and tolerance. Mrs. Rogers overcomes her dislike for Omar's family after she gets to know them better. Daniel, the boy who bullied Omar, also has a heartbreaking backstory which could be the reason he has so many pent up negative emotions in his heart.
Omar's perspective is quite unique and the humour he finds in the everyday proceedings of the world around him will keep you laughing and smiling throughout the story. What makes the book even more engrossing are the absolutely fabulous illustrations by Nasaya Mafaridik. This book is an easy, enjoyable read which leaves a good feeling in your heart at the thought that there is goodness in people even if we can't see it immediately. All we need to do is to keep an open mind and heart and then it will be easy to see that goodness and appreciate each person for their uniqueness.
Inspired to write your own book review? Let us know! Still searching for the perfect book to capture your imagination and get those creative juices flowing? Check out one of our many book recommendation lists. Still not sure? Then watch our interview with none other than Marcus Zuzak, author of The Book Thief, down below.
Mir Faraz is a student at The Winchester School, Jebel Ali. An avid reader since a very young age, Mir counts his bookshelf as one of his most prized possessions. Mir loves to write and his short story "Every Voice Matters" was chosen as the winner in the "Most Riveting Use of Language" category at the Voices of Future Generations Arabia. Mir has also won prestigious academic accolades like the Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance and the Sharjah Award for Educational Excellence. When not reading, you'll find him playing his guitar, building LEGO or watching sci-fi movies.