Amazing New Series about BOYS in STEAM: SADIQ AND THE DESERT STAR (Cybils Nominee)

It’s no secret I’m concerned boys are being left out of the “get kids interested in STEAM” discussion, which puts boys of color and/or other marginalized backgrounds at significant risk for being jettisoned from the field entirely.  

My proverbial purple unicorn has arrived! There is an amazing new series to fill this exact need.

Thank you Picture Window Books for the review copy of Cybils nominee SADIQ AND THE DESERT STAR, written by Siman Nuurali and illustrated by Anjan Sarkar. This 56-page chapter book looks to be first in a series that appears you can read it out of order.

Sadiq is a Somali-American third grader living in a diverse-and-inclusive* community in Minnesota.

When a trip to the planetarium inspires him and his friends to use a telescope at home to find the Desert Star of his awoowe’s (grandfather’s) stories, the Space Club is born.

Sadiq’s club is four boys and one girl (Nuurali speaks to the lack of STEM books aimed at boys without excluding girls totally). The Space Club works together with the perfect mix of positivity and practicality, to hatch and execute repeated plans to get a telescope until they make it happen.


  • Backmatter shows how to make a telescope for less than $20.
  • In addition to questions about science, backmatter also encourages kids to do creative writing and primary research asking older adults about their childhoods. The latter is another activity being lost in the STEAM craze.** All-around brain growth for the win!
  • Save the folklore-inspiring-STEAM curiosity (that alone would have me geeking out) Sadiq’s family’s culture is woven into, but not central to the story. Nuurali ties Sadiq’s experiences as a Somali kid in Minnesota, to his baba’s (dad’s) experiences growing up in Somalia. It’s reality that in 2019, we still need books that make people of certain cultures relatable, and Sadiq delivers marvelously.
  • Nuurali gave her last name to Sadiq’s older brother, which was beyond amusing to me as a writer.
  • Anjan Sarkar’s brightly-colored illustrations call cartoons to mind, which appealed immediately to both my kids (Son is 8 and daughter is 7).


  • I would have loved backmatter about the Desert Star, as my limited knowledge of astronomy + American English Google didn’t yield anything. There’s probably an official scientific name for the constellation, and now I’m going to WONDER. 

I wish Picture Window would have published these books a few years ago when they’d have been my own son’s reading level, but there’s such a dearth on the market we’ll be checking out other Sadiq books anyway. 

Oh, yeah, and there’s another Sadiq nominee… 

Congrats Siman Nuurali and Anjan Sarkar on your nomination!

SADIQ AND THE DESERT STAR is available now from Picture Window Books/Capstone. 

*A breath of fresh air to a transplant to a “diverse-but-not-inclusive” community such as myself. 

**I work in software development, I can say it. 

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