Review: Planet Omar Unexpected Super Spy by Zanib Mian


 In his second adventure Omar once again puts his beaming “hypnosis smile” and “pester-power puppy dog” eyes to good use in a charming story about putting others first. 

After emptying his money box in an irreversible fashion, Omar decides to spend the £42-53 he has amassed on a Laser Nerf Blaster, much to the delight of his two best friends Charlie and Daniel. However, when mum tells him that their mosque needs to raise funds quickly for vital repairs, kind-hearted Omar not only donates his Nerf money but also embarks on a fundraising mission.

Omar is the most delightful character and the interactions with his friends, his lovely family and his neighbours are relatable and heart-warming. His attempt to give his tired mum a five-senses spa is laugh-out-loud hilarious, and his secret hiding place for his cash is ingenious as well as giggle-inducing!

The fun element of the book is enhanced by Nasaya Mafaridik’s illustrations and the interesting use of fonts throughout the book. Omar, Charlie and Daniel embark on organising a talent show with the support of their perfect teacher, Mrs Hutchinson, and usually grumpy headteacher and the evening is a runaway success. Then disaster! The money they collect goes missing and suddenly their spying talents are called into action as they set a series of rib-tickling traps for their suspects. 

This book has already proved very popular with children with whom I’ve shared it. Firstly the humour is perfectly pitched for children of 7+. Secondly they were very interested in the way that details of Omar’s religious practice is incorporated into the story, and how many similarities there are between this and the Christian practices we are familiar with. I think this is a huge strength of the book, giving children (and adults) an insight into a kind, fun and loving Muslim family and breaking down barriers. I imagine that Muslim and British-Pakistani children will enjoy seeing themselves reflected so positively by Omar, Maryam and Esa.


I received my copy of this book from Toppsta and Hachette Children’s Publishing in exchange for an honest review.


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