A humorous, sensitive, and poignant family-centered take on moving to a new country.

THE TURTLE OF MICHIGAN

Transplanted from Oman to Michigan, an Arab boy adjusts to his new life while missing his beloved grandfather in this stand-alone companion to The Turtle of Oman (2014).

After weeks of worry and fear about leaving his home; his grandfather Sidi; and his friends, 8-year-old Aref’s finally on the plane with his mother, poised to join his father in Ann Arbor, where they will live while his parents attend graduate school. As the plane ascends, Aref’s relieved, excited, and fascinated with everything during their flights to Paris, New York City, and Detroit. 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. Nye’s inimitable, poetic prose beautifully captures Aref’s emotions as he meets the challenges of international travel and adjusting to a new community and culture while worrying about Sidi. Seamlessly continuing Aref’s story but accessible to new readers, this novel deftly explores the meaning of home. Final art not seen.

A humorous, sensitive, and poignant family-centered take on moving to a new country. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-301416-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Did you like this book?

NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

more