Unexpected Super Spy is the second book in the Planet Omar series and it is just as much fun as the first.
Omar is happy at school with his his best friend Charlie and bully-turned-friend Daniel. They are all looking forward to getting Laser Nerf Blasters so they can have a Nerf battle. Omar has being saving hard and is thrilled to ‘crack-open’ his savings pot and find enough money to buy the Nerf Blaster.
But when the mosque he and his family regularly visit is in danger of closing down, Omar decides that his money needs to go towards saving the mosque. The only problem is he is a few thousand pounds short of the total the mosque needs. Can Omar and his friends raise the funds needed to save the mosque?
Another brilliant read from Zanib Mian. Omar and his Muslim family are very likeable characters and are typical of any other family. As with the first book, It has all of the drama and hilarity of everyday family life. It is fantastic that Muslim children have a character in Omar that they can relate to. Mian helps non-Muslims understand Muslim daily life and there are references to daily rituals including visits to the mosque, explanations about Halal foods, mentions of Allah and plenty of biriyani.
There is so much to like in this funny book. The children are full of good ideas to save the mosque - selling their own possessions (just the ones that they no longer need), they will complete chores for money, bake cookies with the help of now-friendly neighbour Mrs. Rogers, offer at-home spa treatments and run a school talent show. It is through all of these endeavours that much of the action plays out and Omar’s lively imagination is never short of a new idea.
Omar’s relationship with his older sister Maryam will be relatable to any child with a sibling. They argue, they fall out, they annoy each other, and when all is said and done they love each other. The race to raise the money for the mosque brings out their competitive sides and neither wants to be outdone by the other.
Black and white cartoon style illustrations by Nasaya Mafaridik, zany page layouts and the use of different fonts all add to the fun. In amongst the fun there are important messages on chasing dreams, never giving up and the importance of community and communities pulling together. When money that Omar has raised goes missing it raises the issue of trust and when the money finally does turn up the cause of its disappearance is lighthearted and fun.
Omar is like any other child - he loves playing with his mates, he argues with his siblings and just wants to have fun! The book 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+.
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