Arshi Showkat
Arshi Showkat
PLANET OMAR: ACCIDENTAL TROUBLE MAGNET (BOOK 1) by Zanib Mian Hodder Children’s Books, 2019, 224 pp., 399
November 2019, volume 43, No 11

Omar has moved to a new town with his family of super-genius parents, tantrum-throwing sister and a little brother who ‘has ants in his pants’. Moving entails a number of changes—new school, new friends, new neighbours, leaving behind some old toys and Omar doesn’t seem to like it. He gets woken up by nightmares of a teacher who has green slime oozing out of his ears, chasing him and feels snakes in his tummy. Tough spot to be in but he successfully wades through these struggles using his imagination.

On the first day at school, Omar befriends Charlie, who is soft hearted. Omar likes everything about the school, especially Mrs Hutchinson whose curls change shapes with her mood, except Daniel who bullies him and Charlie. Omar calls a dragon, H2O, for help in dealing with Daniel and laughs away his menacing. On the inside, Daniel and his words make him cringe and he is unable to discuss it with his family, particularly his threat that they (Muslims) were soon going to be deported (to Pakistan). This ghostly fear of deportation haunts him till the end of the book. At home, the family discovers that their neighbour—a grumpy old lady, Mrs Rogers, is not pleased with her Muslim neighbours and keeps complaining about something or the other over the phone. She doesn’t like their food or the kids making noise while playing on the lawn.

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