The Turtle of Michigan
Affirming, gentle story about boy's move from Oman to U.S.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Turtle of Michigan, by award-winning poet and author Naomi Shihab Nye, is an uplifting, affirming story about 8-year-old Aref's move from the Arabian country of Oman to Ann Arbor, Michigan. It's a stand-alone companion to The Turtle of Oman. The story highlights Aref's curiosity, resilience, and positive outlook as he and his parents adjust to life in a new country. It's a gentle, slower-paced story full of kind and welcoming characters. Aref's family is part of a diverse community, including many immigrants. There are two brief mentions of characters leaving their home countries or not being able to return due to fighting and conflicts. Aref and his family are saddened when the leader of Oman, Sultan Qaboos, dies (at 80 years old) during the course of the story.
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What's the Story?
In THE TURTLE OF MICHIGAN, 8-year-old Aref and his mom travel through various airports to join his dad in Ann Arbor, where his parents will attend grad school for three years. Aref observes everything with curiosity as he views different landscapes, meets new neighbors, and makes friends at school. The story alternates between short chapters about Aref's day-to-day experiences and explorations in Ann Arbor, his brief journal entries, and letters or emails between Aref and his beloved grandfather Sidi. A few interspersed chapters describe how Sidi is doing back home in Oman. Although Aref occasionally worries about things, he is a confident boy enjoying the adventure of a new home. But he misses Sidi terribly, and Sidi misses him too. Sidi says he can't and won't fly on an airplane. How will Aref continue to adjust to his new home? When will Aref and Sidi see each other again?
Is It Any Good?
This affirming, uplifting story offers a glimpse of what it's like to adjust to life in a new country. It's fun to experience new things through Aref's eyes, like flying on an airplane or seeing snow for the first time. The kindness and care of family, neighbors, and community in the story is heartwarming. There's also some gentle humor in Aref's everyday explorations of his new surroundings. Aref's close bond with his grandfather is evident through their correspondence and memories of times together.
The Turtle of Michigan will appeal most to readers who appreciate author Naomi Shihab Nye's poetic prose and a slower-paced story. Readers who've moved to new place or new school may find it relatable. Aref and his parents arrive at a community that's completely welcoming. Aref's school is very diverse and inclusive. His biggest worry is how to correct classmates who mispronounce his name. While this positive take is assuring and inspiring, it may ring less true for readers who have faced more difficult challenges when moving to a new home or country.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the different emotions that Aref feels about moving in The Turtle of Michigan. What is he worried or sad or excited about? Why?
Aref moves from the country of Oman to Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. Oman is on the Arabian Peninsula. Can you find it on a map? What did you learn about the Oman in the book? What more would you like to know?
Aref is excited to fly on an airplane and see snow for the first time. What is something that you were excited to do or see for the first time? Why? How did it feel?
- Author: Naomi Shihab Nye
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Greenwillow Books
- Publication date: March 15, 2022
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: April 1, 2022
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