Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye



The Turtle of Oman
by Naomi Shihab Nye
illustrated (with small sketches at the beginning of every chapter) by Betsy Peterschmidt
Greenwillow Books, 2014
review copy from the public library (but I'll be purchasing this one for my classroom library)

This book is not a novel in verse, but it is written so poetically that sometimes it feels like a poem.

This book is a love song to HOME. 

Young Aref is leaving Oman to live in Michigan for 3 years while his parents go to graduate school there. The story tells about his last week in Oman, spent procrastinating and delaying the packing of his suitcase, while savoring everything he loves the best in and near the city of Muscat in Oman with his wonderful grandfather Sidi. Together, they go to the nearby sea and spend some time on the beach. They go to a camp out in the desert and spend the night. They ride out with a fisherman into the sea. Aref spends the night at Sidi's house and they sleep out under the stars on the flat roof of Sidi's house. 

When they are at the Camp of a Thousand Stars, they meet a man with a falcon who flies away from his handler, but comes back every time to sit on his arm. When they go to the beach, they visit the place where the sea turtles come back every year to lay their  eggs. Out on the boat, Aref catches a fish, but lets it go back to its home in the sea. And slowly, throughout the course of the week, Aref can begin to imagine leaving Oman, because he knows that he, too, will return.

By showing us Oman through the eyes of a child whose heart is breaking to leave it, Naomi Shihab Nye gives the reader an intimate look at a place that, though very different from anywhere in North America, will invite the reader appreciate both Oman, as well as all the people and particular places that make HOME special to him/her.

 

2 comments:

  1. I have a copy, but no one is picking it up. I was hoping some of my 6th graders would. It is rather slow. I love Nye's poetry, and Habibi is great.

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  2. I have been reading this book for a while now. I, too, love Naomi's poetry but find this book slow. I do love the characters of Aref and Sidi.

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