Accidental trouble magnet

Zanib Mian

Book - 2020

"Imaginative Omar goes through the ups and downs of starting a new school and making new friends with the help of his wonderful (and silly) Muslim family"--

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Mian, Zanib. Planet Omar ; bk. 1.
Humorous fiction
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons 2020.
First American edition
Item Description
"First published in Great Britain by Hodder and Stoughton, 2019."
Physical Description
205 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Ages 8-12.
Main Author
Zanib Mian (author)
Other Authors
Nasaya Mafaridik (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In their #OwnVoices debut, Mian and Mafaridik create a relatable and hilarious story for the elementary-school set. Omar is the middle child of a British Muslim family, and he's feeling anxious about his first day at a new school. Thankfully, he gets seated beside a nice kid named Charlie (instafriend!), but Daniel, the class bully, has his mean eyes on Omar. Outside of school, Omar's family is observing Ramadan, and Omar takes his first crack at fasting, mostly to score bonus points with Allah, which hopefully will get him a prize like a Ferrari! Exploding with personality and imagination, Omar is an easy character to love. His explanations of Muslim faith and culture, such as when and how to pray, his favorite foods to eat (even when they're smelly to cook), and how it's hilarious that non-Muslim people sometimes think his mom never takes off her head scarf, flow naturally through the story. What emerges is the picture of a somewhat harried family that is smart (Omar's parents are scientists) and kind. Doodle illustrations adorn every page, in perfect sync with the story's humorous and dramatic moments. Racist assumptions held by an elderly neighbor and Daniel are excellently handled and evaporate once these characters actually get to know Omar and his family, reinforcing the idea that difference can be a lovely thing. Grades 3-5. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Originally released in the U.K. as The Muslims, Mian's middle grade debut features some stock elements: after his family moves, Omar fears he won't make friends at his new school and that his teacher will be a space alien, is vexed that he's targeted by bully Daniel, and gets frustrated that his teenage sister has become a "snitch." In Omar's daily life and close-knit Muslim family, religion plays a focal role. His narrative incidentally relays—with readers and with his new friend, Charlie—the prayers his family says daily; fasting, feasting, and other rituals of Ramadan; and his scientist mother's commitment to wearing hijab. Mian also credibly integrates Omar's hurtful experiences with prejudice, as when Daniel tells the boy that "the worst thing about you" is "You're Muslim.... You better go back to your country before we kick you all out" (Daniel adjusts his attitude and Omar learns the genesis of Daniel's bitterness). Yet the dominant tone of wildly imaginative Omar's free-association narrative, laced with expressive hand lettering and Mafaridik's playfully exaggerated line art, remains chipper and uplifting. Ages 8–12. (Feb.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3–6—When Omar's family moves to a new house, that means the 10-year-old must start the year at a new school. Omar is nervous because he thinks he will stand out as the new kid and because he is Muslim. Luckily for Omar, he has a great teacher and makes a new friend, Charlie, right away. But Omar and Charlie become the target of a bully, Daniel, who seems to dislike Omar for no other reason than he is Muslim. Daniel even goes as far as saying that all Muslims will be kicked out of the country. When Omar and Daniel are thrown together into a scary situation, the boys learn more about each other and realize that maybe they don't have to be enemies. Told from Omar's point of view, the playful text is bolstered with illustrations throughout that show off his creativity and imagination. VERDICT A great #OwnVoices story for children to learn more about connection and empathy.—Jayna Ramsey, Douglas County Libraries in Parker, CO Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"Imaginative Omar goes through the ups and downs of starting a new school and making new friends with the help of his wonderful (and silly) Muslim family"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An exciting middle-grade debut starring a Muslim boy with a huge imagination. An NPR Best Book of the Year.Welcome to the imaginative brain of Omar!Omar and his family have just moved, and he is NOT excited about starting at a new school. What if the work is too hard or the kids are mean or the teacher is a zombie alien?!But when Omar makes a new best friend, things start looking up. That is, until a Big Mean Bully named Daniel makes every day a nightmare! Daniel even tells Omar that all Muslims are going to be kicked out of the country . . . Could that possibly be true?Luckily, Omar's enormous imagination and goofy family help him get through life's ups and downs.Omar's funny, relatable narrative is the perfect answer to the call for both mirrors and windows to fill bookshelves with diverse stories. -An NPR Best Book of the Year-USBBY Outstanding International Book Selection-2020 Global Read Aloud Selection-Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year-Middle East Book Award Nominee-New York Public Library Best Book of the Year (top 10)