Accidental Trouble Magnet (Planet Omar #1)

Zanib Mian, illus. by Nasaya Mafaridik. Putnam, $13.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-593-10921-2
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.)
Reviewed on : 11/14/2019
Release date: 02/04/2020
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-593-10923-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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