Omar, a British Pakistani boy, and his family have just moved to a new home in London, where he will be starting at a new school.
Omar worries about a lot of things, especially “walking into a brand-new classroom with everyone watching and a teacher who might or might not be an alien zombie.” He has a little brother and an older sister, and his mom and dad are both scientists. (Published in the U.K. in 2019, the text has been Americanized for the U.S. edition.) Omar has a huge imagination that helps him get through difficult situations, envisioning, for instance, “a better way to get to school…on a SUPER-Awesome, Magnificent DRAGON.” Mafaridik creatively embellishes the text with sketches and a variety of display types. At his new school, Omar makes friends with Charlie but also meets Daniel, a bully. (Both boys present white.) Omar does not tell his mom because he does not want her to worry, instead using humor and creativity to escape Daniel’s cruelty. Mian seamlessly weaves Islamic values and teachings through Omar’s chatty narration. At prayer in the mosque, “we went into Rukhu. That’s when your hands are on your knees.…Then we went into Sujood.” These descriptions and definitions are consistent and brief throughout, moving with the flow of the story. While the story’s tone is light, anti-Muslim sentiment is acknowledged and integrated into the narrative.
Readers will be excited to see where Omar’s imagination will take him next. (Fiction. 8-12)