A Sutton maths teacher has won a prestigious award for his debut novel, inspired by his experience of losing a family member to religious extremism.

Muhammed Khan, who teaches at Greenshaw High School, felt compelled to write I Am Thunder, which chronicles the radicalisation of a young Muslim girl growing up in London, after news broke of three Bethnal Green schoolgirls travelling to Syria to join Islamic State in 2015.

Last week he was named winner of the 20th Branford Boase Award, one of the most influential for children's books in the UK, known to be a platform for success in an increasingly competitive market.

Mr Khan, who grew up in Balham with his first-generation immigrant Pakistani parents, said: "I wrote I am Thunder for everyone.

"I hope it’s an exciting and thrilling story; a story that takes a stereotype and turns it on its head; a story that encourages people from all walks of life to become the superhero they are destined to be by speaking their truth and owning it."

One of Mr Khan's own relatives was drawn into Islamic extremism years ago, ultimately moving abroad.

In I Am Thunder, he tells the story of a young Muslim girl presented with a series of similar choices, who manages to avoid being dragged into the same world.

Speaking of his own experience, he said: "Almost overnight, this person began to change into someone unrecognisable.

"Suddenly we were deemed 'evil' and not 'true Muslims.'

"It was a complete shock which got me conducting my own research and meeting with a variety of Muslims, just as Muzna does in I am Thunder.

"I arrived at a very different conclusion. Islam is about bringing people together with compassion and hope, not driving them apart.

"The more research Muzna does, the more she is able to articulate why extremism is wrong and her faith compels her to speak out against it."

With only 4% of all the children’s books published in the UK last year featuring a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) character, Mr Khan was determined to give his students a voice through his character.

"Virtually every character in the book has a real-life counterpart," he said.

Mitch Johnson, last year’s Branford Boase Award winner says of the book: “The sensitivity with which Khan handles such a volatile and emotive subject is astounding, and his ability to create a story that is both gripping and tender is hugely impressive.”