Zanib Mian was a science teacher before launching an independent publisher, Muslim Children’s Books. Passionate about Muslim representation in children’s books publishing, she was on the panel of judges for the prestigious Young Muslim Writers Awards. Since then, she has also become the Founding Director of Sweet Apple Publishers. Her “Planet Omar” series has become a sensation among young Muslim readers. The illustrator of the book is Nasaya Mafaridik who is based in Indonesia. Self-taught, she has a passion for children’s books and bright, colorful stationery. Her vibrant images are true to the spirit of the book series, “Planet Omar,” which tackles worries and questions of a Muslim children in today’s society. Let’s talk to Zanib about this:
R. Congratulations on your new book launch in the series “Planet Omar!” Tell us about how you were inspired to write “Planet Omar Incredible Rescue Mission?”
Z. Thanks very much! In this book, the third in the series, Omar’s teacher goes missing. I loved the scope of adventure a missing teacher, along with Omar’s imagination and trouble magnet character, presented. The idea of the family taking a trip to Pakistan at some point in the series came from my agent, Jessica Craig. I thought it was a great opportunity to fit it into this story.
R. Tell us what you believe is most enjoyable about your new book, for kids?
Z. I think what really draws the reader in is Omar’s huge personality. Reading along, watching the friendship between Omar, Charlie and Daniel grow, children feel part of this group. They feel that Omar is their friend too – and that’s a very special place to be when you’re lost in a book. Also, experiencing Pakistan through Omar’s lens, as he visits for the first time, is lots of fun and relatable to any child who has visited their parent’s homeland and insightful for those from different cultures.
R. “Planet Omar” is a book series so tell us about Book 1, where it all began.
Z. There are now three books in the series to collect. The first is called, “Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet.” It all begins here, when Omar moves home and starts at a new school. He faces some horrible prejudice from his new neighbor and the school bully, but also makes a great friend. The story is comical as we witness Omar imagine and outwit himself out of lots of sticky situations, including ultimately being lost on the London Underground with his bully. The second book is “Planet Omar: Unexpected Super Spy.”
R. You are a successful author of many children’s books. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Z. Write the stories you would like read. Write from your own experiences and be authentic – the reader will pick up on that and will love your voice.
R. What do you like to read?
Z. I do still love reading picture books to my nieces! For personal reading, I often go for a good psychotic thriller, strange as that may sound from a sweet little children’s author!
R. How can we keep up with your publishing journey?
Z. Follow me on Instagram @zanibmian and Twitter @zendibble.
My Islamic books can be bought on muslimchildrensbooks.co.uk and mainstream books such as the “Planet Omar” series at all good bookshops! Thanks for reading!