Monday, February 9, 2015

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Turtle of Oman

I didn’t know what to expect with this book, but I liked the idea of a kid sharing special memories with his grandfather. I read it as an e-book from my public library. 

Here’s the Amazon description:

Aref Al-Amri does not want to leave Oman. He does not want to leave his elementary school, his friends, or his beloved grandfather, Siddi. He does not want to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his parents will go to graduate school. His mother is desperate for him to pack his suitcase, but he refuses. Finally, she calls Siddi for help. But rather than pack, Aref and Siddi go on a series of adventures. They visit the camp of a thousand stars deep in the desert, they sleep on Siddi's roof, they fish in the Gulf of Oman and dream about going to India, and they travel to the nature reserve to watch the sea turtles. At each stop, Siddi finds a small stone that he later slips into Aref's suitcase—mementos of home.

Naomi Shihab Nye's warmth, attention to detail, and belief in the power of empathy and connection shines from every page. Features black-and-white spot art and decorations by Betsy Peterschmidt.

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye, Greenwillow Books, 2014

My Take:

This is a lovely story about a boy who is worrying about the changes happening in his life and, especially, how he will miss his grandfather. It’s a slower paced book that gives you time to pause and think about feelings as you read. It would work well as a book for class discussions about immigration, cultural differences and anxiety about life changes. It reminded me to take notice of the small things around me in the world and appreciate them.

What I admired most about this one is the main character’s voice and the poetic language. There are many beautiful images and emotional moments in this story.

Opening Line:

“Aref Al-Amri stared at the Muscat International Airport security guards.”


“After dinner, Aref quietly turned the handle of the front door and stepped outside by himself to memorize what his house looked like under the moon.”

“He plucked a banana from the fruit bowl and peeled it slowly and deliberately, as it if were the last, most important banana in the world.”

 “Words blended together like paint on paper when you  brushed a streak of watercolor orange onto a page, blew on it and thin rivers of color spread out, touching other colors to make a new one.”

Other Info:

Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet and novelist who lives in Texas.

In addition to many poetry books, she has written two other novels for young people: Habibi and Going Going.

She talks about poetry on Naomi Shihab Nye: The Art of Teaching Poetry and says that to teach poetry you need to create “a mood, an atmosphere, where poetry becomes contagious.”

For more about Naomi Shihab Nye, visit her author page on the HarperCollins website.


  1. Glad you were able to get this from your library. It sounds like a quieter, but good read.

  2. This book sounds lovely! I also like the cover. It's interesting that she's a poet. From the lines you quoted, I can tell her writing is very lyrical. Thanks for sharing this one!

  3. I hadn't heard of this book, so thank you for featuring it. Sounds beautiful. I'm not surprised that the language is poetic. I've read some of her poetry.

  4. This sounds truly lovely, the kind of book that stays with you. I think I'll pick it up. Thanks so much for the recommend!


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