Naomi Shihab Nye
Available August 6, 2014
Aref is 8 or 9 years old and lives in Muscat, the capital city of Oman, a place he loves. His parents are university professors preparing to move the family to Ann Arbor, Michigan for three years of graduate study, and Aref is NOT happy at the prospect. The book covers the week before leaving (starting with the father’s advance departure) and how Aref gradually adjusts to the move as his mother hurries to finish all the preparations. One senses that he may have been a bit of a pill about it, and that his mother may have conferred with her wise, elderly father, known as Sidi, because Sidi effectively takes Aref out of her hair for extended periods. Aref and Sidi camp overnight in the desert, they visit an old fisherman friend on the coast, they enjoy a breakfast together at Sidi’s familiar house, and Sidi gently helps Aref grow up just enough to be able to pack his bag and cooperate with the family’s larger plans. Nye’s poetic voice shines through in the charming dialogue, the affectionate descriptions, the longing for that which cannot be. The Turtle of Oman is not a book of adventure, suspense or romance. It’s a book about the foundations of self: place, family, nature, experience. It’s a small jewel, perfect for sharing aloud as a family prepares for change.