The Turtle of Michigan

The Turtle of Michigan cover
The Turtle of Michigan by Naomi Shihab Nye

By Naomi Shihab Nye
Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2022
336 pages

Ages 8-11

In this kindhearted, stand-alone companion to The Turtle of Oman, eight-year-old Aref, who is Arab, moves from Oman to Ann Arbor, Michigan, so his parents can attend graduate school.  The start of their three-year stay is buoyed by welcoming new neighbors and a summer art class that helps ease Aref’s transition. By the time school begins, Aref, who learned English at his school in Oman, has several friends. His diverse classmates originally come from many countries—and the Upper Penninsula! His white teacher is kind and encouraging. At his apartment building, his next door neighbor, Hugh, is blind, well-traveled, and loves to cook. Aref loves Ann Arbor’s food, the decorations in his school, the lights at Christmastime, the SNOW, all the (not palm!) trees, and the small turtles in the river when his family hikes in the nature preserve. The only thing Aref doesn’t like about Ann Arbor? There’s no Sidi, his grandfather. Sidi and Aref email back and forth, and Aref tries to persuade Sidi to come visit. Sidi, for his part, is lonely back in Oman, but afraid to fly. The poems and journal entries Aref occasionally writes reveal a child taking everything in with a curious, open heart that’s a perfect match to the overall sensibility of this story.  ©2022 Cooperative Children’s Book Center