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 Oman is a coming-of-age story about a boy from the Arab country of Oman who doesn’t want to move to America. He eventually learns that, like the turtles he loves so much, he carries his home with him -- and will return to where he's from. Readers will learn something about Oman and its people and pick up on the the various facts Asef lists between the pages about turtles, foxes, and more. In one scene, Asef sees men smoking tobacco out of a "hubble-bubble" (a water pipe), and in another, he catches a fish, but releases it because he wants it to live. This book is a good choice for kids who may be resisting a family move, or really anyone who loves poetic stories full of significant details.
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What's the story?
Having always lived in Oman, Asef doesn't want to move to the United States with his parents for three years while they attend graduate school in Michigan. He's not getting very far in his packing, and is generally gloomy thinking about all the things he loves about Oman, and how his cousins will be moving into his house and messing with his stuff. His beloved grandfather takes him on a series of adventures -- a trip to the beach, a camping trip to the desert, an overnight on his grandfather's roof -- giving Asef sweet memories and also the insight he needs to have a new attitude about his new adventure.
Is it any good?
THE TURTLE OF OMAN has a lyrical style and languid pace that will stick with readers. The story is both educational in its portrait of the Arabian country and its people (and all the facts Asef lists between the pages about turtles, foxes and more), and moving, as readers see the love Asef has for his home, and especially his grandfather, Sidi. Asef's playful, loving grandfather is well-drawn, and readers can't help but be envious of their endless stream-of-consciousness conversations ("Talking with Sidi felt like a sky of floating words. You could say anything. 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 the other colors to make a new one.")
This is a good choice for kids who may be resisting a family move, or really anyone who loves poetic stories full of significant details.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Asef's struggle. Why doesn't he want to move to America? How do his feelings change by the end?
What do you think of the book's title? What does Asef have in common with the turtles he loves so much?
Each member of Asef's family shares something he or she learned each day, even if it's only a new vocabulary word. Why do they do this? What does it tell you about them? Inspired families might want to try this exercise on their own.
- Author: Naomi Shihab Nye
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Adventures, Great Boy Role Models, Ocean Creatures, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Greenwillow Books
- Publication date: August 26, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
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