Praised by the Horn Book as “both quiet and exhilarating,” this novel by the acclaimed poet and National Book Award Finalist Naomi Shihab Nye follows Aref Al-Amri as he says goodbye to everything and everyone he loves in his hometown of Muscat, Oman, as his family prepares to move to Ann Arbor, Michigan. This book was awarded a 2015 Middle East Book Award, was named a Notable Book by the American Library Association, and includes extra material by the author.
Aref Al-Amri does not want to leave Oman. He does not want to leave his elementary school, his friends, or his beloved grandfather, Siddi. He does not want to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his parents will go to graduate school. His mother is desperate for him to pack his suitcase, but he refuses. Finally, she calls Siddi for help. But rather than pack, Aref and Siddi go on a series of adventures. They visit the camp of a thousand stars deep in the desert, they sleep on Siddi's roof, they fish in the Gulf of Oman and dream about going to India, and they travel to the nature reserve to watch the sea turtles. At each stop, Siddi finds a small stone that he later slips into Aref's suitcase—mementos of home.
Naomi Shihab Nye's warmth, attention to detail, and belief in the power of empathy and connection shines from every page. Features black-and-white spot art and decorations by Betsy Peterschmidt.
Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father was a Palestinian refugee and her mother an American of German and Swiss descent, and she spent her adolescence in both Jerusalem and San Antonio, Texas. She earned her BA from Trinity University in San Antonio. Naomi Shihab Nye describes herself as a “wandering poet.” She has spent more than forty years traveling the country and the world, leading writing workshops and inspiring students of all ages.
Naomi Shihab Nye is the author and/or editor of more than thirty books. Her books of poetry for adults and young people include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (a finalist for the National Book Award); A Maze Me: Poems for Girls; Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners; Honeybee (winner of the Arab American Book Award); Cast Away: Poems of Our Time (one of the Washington Post’s best books of 2020); Come with Me: Poems for a Journey; and Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems. Her other volumes of poetry include Red Suitcase; Words Under the Words; Fuel; Transfer; You & Yours; Mint Snowball; and The Tiny Journalist. Her collections of essays include Never in a Hurry and I’ll Ask You Three Times, Are You Okay?: Tales of Driving and Being Driven.
Naomi Shihab Nye has edited nine acclaimed poetry anthologies, including This Same Sky: Poems from Around the World; The Space Between Our Footsteps: Poems from the Middle East; Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25; and What Have You Lost? Her picture books include Sitti’s Secrets, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, and her acclaimed fiction includes Habibi; The Turtle of Oman (winner of the Middle East Book Award) and its sequel, The Turtle of Michigan (honorable mention for the Arab American Book Award).
Naomi Shihab Nye has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress). She has received a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, four Pushcart Prizes, the Robert Creeley Award, and "The Betty," from Poets House, for service to poetry, and numerous honors for her children’s literature, including two Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards. In 2011 Nye won the Golden Rose Award given by the New England Poetry Club, the oldest poetry-reading series in the country. Her work has been presented on National Public Radio on A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac. She has been featured on two PBS poetry specials, including The Language of Life with Bill Moyers, and she also appeared on NOW with Bill Moyers. She has been affiliated with the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin for twenty years and served as poetry editor at the Texas Observer for twenty years. In 2019–20 she was the poetry editor for the New York Times Magazine. She is Chancellor Emeritus for the Academy of American Poets and laureate of the 2013 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature, and in 2017 the American Library Association presented Naomi Shihab Nye with the 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award. In 2018 the Texas Institute of Letters named her the winner of the Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement. She was named the 2019–21 Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. In 2020 she was awarded the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement by the National Book Critics Circle. In 2021 she was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Naomi Shihab Nye is professor of creative writing-poetry at Texas State University.
“Nye’s story about the special bond between a boy and his grandfather and their mutual love for their country is somehow both quiet and exhilarating.” — Horn Book (starred review)
“A warm and humorous peek at the profound and mundane details of moving from one country to another—a perfect pick for kids on the move.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Magical . . .Will deeply touch young readers who have also moved between countries—and it will enlighten their new friends.” — Booklist
“Nye’s elegant but accessible tale—a love letter to Oman, a touching portrayal of a boy and his grandfather, and a poignant look at how we experience change—is deeply moving.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books