The Turtle of Michigan


Author: Naomi Shihab Nye

After weeks of worry and fear about leaving his home; his grandfather Sidi; and his friends, 8-year-old Aref’s finally on a plane to Michigan with his mother. They're off to join his father in Ann Arbor, where Aref's parents are going to attend graduate school. As the plane ascends, Aref is relieved, excited, and fascinated with everything during their flights to Paris, New York City, and Detroit.

When they get to Michigan, they settle into their small apartment, and Aref’s parents attend classes at the university while he starts third grade at a diverse new school that reminds him of his old one. Aref enthusiastically savors the sights, sounds, and scents of Michigan, especially the deciduous trees, small turtles, and snow—so different from Oman’s palm trees, large turtles, and desert.

Gradually Aref’s fear of feeling strange in Ann Arbor dissipates, but he still misses Sidi, who’s not doing well without his grandson. If only Sidi could overcome his fear of new things and come visit.