Planet Omar is an award-winning book that was originally released in 2018 under the title, ‘The Muslims’.
Omar lives with his mum and dad, who are both super-smart scientists, younger brother Esa who may look sweet and innocent but is most definitely not, and his older sister Maryam who always thinks she knows best and loves to wind him up. Omar has had to move to a new house all because his mum got a new job and he is really not happy about it. The move was very annoying and he has had to leave some of his toys behind, and even worse than that…he has to start at a new school in a few days time. Which means all the children will be staring at him and the teacher might be a zombie alien.
School isn’t as bad as Omar feared, he makes friends with Charlie and the teacher isn’t a zombie. The only problem is Daniel, the class bully, and he has told Omar that he is going to be kicked out of the country and be sent back to Pakistan because he is a Muslim. Omar’s next-door-neighbour, Mrs. Rogers, isn’t too fond of her new neighbours either, ‘the Muslims’ - as she refers to Omar and his family - are being too noisy and frying smelly onions.
But when Mrs. Rogers becomes ill, it is Omar and his family that are there to help. And when disasters strikes on a school trip and Omar and Daniel are left alone in the middle of London, the school bully loses all of his toughness and it is up to Omar to save the day.
A brilliant read featuring a Muslim family as the main characters. It has all of the drama and hilarity of everyday family life. The book provides an insight into Muslim daily life and there are references to daily rituals, special celebrations and typical foods. Non-Muslim children will learn about the life of a Muslim child and it is fantastic that Muslim children have a character in Omar that they can relate to.
Black and white cartoon style illustrations, zany page layouts and the use of different fonts all add to the fun. In amongst the fun there are serious issues at play throughout the narrative; people’s perception of others, prejudices, discrimination, bullying and the responsibility of the media in informing people’s views.
Omar is like any other child - he loves playing, he argues with his siblings, he knows when he needs to be in his parent’s good-books and just wants to have fun! It captures the trials and tribulations of being a child perfectly and shows that regardless of race and religion children are all very much alike.
Recommended for 7+.