The Turtle of Oman

Naomi Shihab Nye. Greenwillow, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-201972-1
Aref Al-Amri doesn’t want to accompany his professor parents on their three-year stint to Ann Arbor, Mich., so he spends his last days in Oman thinking of reasons not to go. Nye (There Is No Difference Now) writes in lyrical prose from a close third-person perspective, poignantly capturing Aref’s impressions of and reflections on the people, places, and experiences he will leave behind, such as the ocean view from his house’s roof, his cat Mish-Mish, and conversations with his beloved grandfather, Sidi: “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.” Aref’s handwritten lists of newly learned facts (“Wood turtles are enormous”) or questions he wonders about (“Why can’t Sidi come with us?”) appear throughout, emphasizing his intellect and emotions: “Were eyes little factories that made as many tears as you needed?” While conveying Aref’s ambivalence about leaving home, this tender story also reveals the inner resources that will help him navigate his new environment. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
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