Tag Archives: Grandparents

Grandpa and Grandma Come to Stay by Asma Zaman illustrated by Azra Momin

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Grandpa and Grandma Come to Stay by Asma Zaman illustrated by Azra Momin

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This slim, paperback book, is actually really sweet and colorful.  It doesn’t look like much at just 14 pages, but the minimal text conveys a good message of helping elders in the home, and can easily be extended to helping those in the community.  I think this is a great book for 3 to 5 year old.  Little ones will get ideas on what they can do, and new readers will feel accomplished when they turn the last page.

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Little brothers, Muhammed and Musa, are waiting for their grandparents to arrive and are confused when their daddy reminds them to be helpful, since they are little and their grandparents are adults.  The parents explain how getting old is hard to the boys and give them ideas of how they can help.   Once they arrive, the boys spring in to action by helping them unpack, getting Grandma her walking stick, and even helping grandpa find his missing teeth.  They especially love when they help put out the prayer rugs for salat.

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The pictures are simple yet well done.  The women wear hijab, not just the mom and grandma, but the doctor too.  Gender roles are depicted well too, the dad takes his parents grocery shopping, is shown helping in the kitchen, and serves the tea.

I really think if you have elder family, it is a great book to introduce what changes and what responsibilities the little ones can help with.  With my own children it was a good reminder and conversation starter that they need to keep toys off the floor so no one trips, they need to listen the first time to whatever they are asked by the elders to do, and that they need to sometimes even help them walk, or slow their gate.  If you don’t have grandparents in the home, it can extend to people at the mosque, with kids helping get chairs, or even at the grocery store in being mindful of holding doors open and helping return carts.

 

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The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

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The Turtle of Oman

This slow, aimless, subtle, quiet prose-like book, is unexpectedly charming and endearing, and so not like most every young adult book out there.   I truly want to make all 4th through 8th graders read it, absorb it and ruminate in the love shared between a nine-year-old boy, his grandfather, and their home.  The easy 299 pages flow by on a 4.6 reading level and make you long for a kind grandfather to help you see the amazing in the ordinary, and provide you with gentle strength when facing life changing events .  The Turtle of Oman has no climax and no conclusion, yet it offers hope and warmth in a reassuring manner that makes you feel better for having read it.

SUMMARY:

Aref is moving from Oman to Ann Arbor Michigan for three years while his parents pursue their education.  To say he is dreading the move is an understatement.  Lucky for him, and the reader, Aref’s grandfather Sidi, helps him create some memories to take with him to America.  While they spend time together, travel around the country, and talk, the reader is drawn into a world where Aref and Sidi, finish each other’s sentences, and blur the lines of fact and make believe with their stories.  Their love and ease with one another is so seamless that not only are they best friends, and relatives, but they are so intertwined the thought of their separation is heartbreaking.

“Aref kept thinking that no matter what you say, there is something more inside that you can’t say.  You talk around it in a circle, like stirring water with a stick, when ripples swirl out from the center.  You say something that isn’t quite right and that’s worse.  Then you want to say, sorry!  But no one knows what you mean.

He wished he could tell Sidi, you are the king of my heart forever, I don’t care who else I meet, I don’t care about traveling and new friends and different flavored yogurts, I only care about how nice you are and how much I cannot stand the thought of being far from you, ever, ever, ever.

But he could never say this.”

Sidi has passed his love of rocks on to Aref and each adventure involves Sidi slipping a rock to Aref as a token for him to remember their adventures and each other.  From exploring the beach, camping in the deserts, sleeping on the roof, and going out on a fishing boat, the duo relishes in the details of everyday life that make life worth living.  Along the way Aref keeps lists of interesting facts and the reader learns about animals, Oman, Michigan and so much more.  But no matter how much prodding and reassurance Sidi and Aref’s mom try and impart on him ,the book pivots around the inevitable need for Aref to pack his suitcase.  As much as packing a suitcase can be a climax or a conclusion, that is what the author gives, and the reader must be content to understand that like Aref’s beloved turtles, he will have to find his way to the ocean only to return once more to Oman.

WHY I LIKE IT:

I love that it meanders and cannot be rushed.  I love the cultural warmth and the emotional depth.  While the setting is Islamic, there is no religion mentioned other than the call to prayer heard in the market place.  Quiet books usually border on boring for young adult readers, but I feel like this one doesn’t.  I am leaning toward doing it for the Junior Book Club to see if it has the emotional appeal that I think it will.  The main character is scared and unsure about the big move, feelings many children have felt.  But his way of handling it, while childish and whiny in his stubbornness to pack, also offers nuanced hope.  Aref is allowed to work through his thoughts and feelings, and while some characters rush him, his time with Sidi doesn’t feel rushed and forced.  His time with Sidi is reassuring and patient, a fictional soft place for the scary unknown.

“Talking with Sidi felt like a sky of floating words,” Aref explains. “You could say anything.”

FLAGS:

None, the book is completely clean.

TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:

Interview with the author:  http://www.hbook.com/2014/12/talks-with-roger/naomi-shihab-nye-talks-with-roger/#_

https://www.readingtokids.org/Books/BookView.php?pag=5&bookID=00001192