Middle-Grade Review: The Turtle of Michigan by Naomi Shihab Nye

 

About This Book:

 

The stand-alone companion to National Book Award Finalist and beloved poet Naomi Shihab Nye’s The Turtle of Oman. The Turtle of Michigan is a deft and accessible novel that follows a young boy named Aref as he travels from Muscat, Oman, to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and adjusts to a new life and a new school in the United States. A wonderful pick for young middle grade readers and fans of Other Words for Home and Billy Miller Makes a Wish.
Aref is excited for his journey to reunite with his father in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Aref makes a friend on an airplane, wonders what Michigan will be like, and starts school in the United States. While he does miss his grandfather, his Sidi, Aref knows that his home in Oman will always be waiting for him.Award-winning author Naomi Shihab Nye’s highly anticipated sequel to The Turtle of Oman explores immigration, family, and what it means to feel at home. Carrying a suitcase and memories of Oman, Aref experiences the excitement and nervousness that accompanies moving to a new home. TheTurtle of Michigan is a great choice for reading aloud and a must-have for younger middle grade readers.

*Review Contributed by Beth Rodgers, Staff Reviewer*

 

New Opportunities

 

The Turtle of Michigan’ by Naomi Shihab Nye is a wonderfully engaging read about a young boy named Aref (pronounced “R-F”) and the journey he takes with his parents to move across the world from Oman to Michigan. It is an entirely different world, and even though Aref finds it special and exciting, he also truly misses his grandfather, whom he calls Sidi (pronounced “C-D”). Some of the story is told through letters that they write to each other, while other parts are narrated, and still others are Aref’s journal entries telling about his new life.

Aref loves turtles, and he wants to have one of his own. The title is a beautiful metaphor for Aref’s life and the way in which he little by little takes steps to grow into his surroundings and find the beauty therein. He desperately wants Sidi to come and visit so they can spend more time together, because he won’t be coming home with his parents for three years while they study at the University of Michigan.

For those who have ever been to Ann Arbor, Michigan or attended the University of Michigan themselves, this book is a fascinating exploration of parts of campus and aspects of the state of Michigan that they may not be aware of already. I myself am a graduate of the school, and there were plenty of interesting and thought-provoking ideas that I looked up to see if they were based in truth just because I didn’t know much, if anything, about them yet. The author has done a great job weaving together a story about a boy who misses home but is eager to embrace his new world with learning so much about the beauty of the place where he has moved.

There are lots of new opportunities for Aref, including joining his school’s anti-bullying club, having sleepovers with new friends, running through fields, having meals with his neighbors, and so much more. It is a beautiful, realistic, thoroughly engaging story and one which is a nice addition to any booklover’s shelf.

Good Points
There are lots of new opportunities for Aref, including joining his school’s anti-bullying club, having sleepovers with new friends, running through fields, having meals with his neighbors, and so much more. It is a beautiful, realistic, thoroughly engaging story and one which is a nice addition to any booklover’s shelf.

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