“…These poems show what life is like for Arab Americans who are tied to two very different worlds. Caught painfully between these two worlds, they feel the horror and sadness over the terrorist acts yet are aware of the many innocent Arabs who have become victims as well…This collection can help teens understand a different point of view and a culture with which most teens are not familiar” —Jennifer Rice, VOYA
“Tell me how to live so many lives at once …”
Fowzi, who beats everyone at dominoes; Ibtisam, who wanted to be a doctor; Abu Mahmoud, who knows every eggplant and peach in his West Bank garden; mysterious Uncle Mohammed, who moved to the mountain; a girl in a red sweater dangling a book bag; children in velvet dresses who haunt the candy bowl at the party; Baba Kamalyari, age 71; Mr. Dajani and his swans; Sitti Khadra, who never lost her peace inside.
Maybe they have something to tell us.
Naomi Shihab Nye has been writing about being Arab-American, about Jerusalem, about the West Bank, about family all her life. These new and collected poems of the Middle East — sixty in all — appear together here for the first time.
Reviews & Accolades
National Book Award Finalist
“…Many of the poems, which focus on the Middle East and the Arab-American experience, have appeared in previous collections; others are published here for the first time. An excellent way to invite exploration and discussion of events far away and their impact here at home.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“…This offering is a celebration of her heritage, and a call for peace...Of particular use today, this is the kind of book that young and older readers of poetry will turn back to over and over.” —Nina Lindsay, School Library Journal
“A Palestinian American raised in St. Louis and Jerusalem, Nye is a writer and anthologist whose poetry, fiction, and essays speak to a wide audience. This small, timely collection brings together her poems about the Middle East and about being Arab American…It’s the drama of the present war that will most move young readers, and the best poems bring big and small together, personalizing the disasters, showing the effects on one child, the loss inside a home, the fragile facts of daily life…The first poem is dated September 11, 2001, and this book will spark discussion and bring readers up close to what war and vengeance mean to people like themselves.” —Hazel Rochman, Booklist
“…Teenagers are more interested in current events now than they have been since the Gulf War. This is poetry they can be interested in. The book starts with a tribute poem and an intro concerning the events of September 11. The Gulf War is mentioned explicitly once. The rest of the poems (60 in all) deal with the humanity of Arabs and their daily joys and struggles, so a new generation of readers can learn to appreciate this rich and ancient culture from a new perspective. Nye’s words will always be slightly ahead of a teenage reader, but the reader will never feel left behind. These are excellent poems to start an even-handed dialogue on the daily struggle in Israel/Palestine.” —Carey Ahr, Children’s Literature
“Nye’s latest collection of poetry appropriately deals with Arab Americans and the Middle East…These poems show what life is like for Arab Americans who are tied to two very different worlds. Caught painfully between these two worlds, they feel the horror and sadness over the terrorist acts yet are aware of the many innocent Arabs who have become victims as well…This collection can help teens understand a different point of view and a culture with which most teens are not familiar, while helping to ease the lingering pain still felt months after lives changed on September 11. This book can be enjoyed by the individual reader or used effectively in a classroom setting.” —Jennifer Rice, VOYA
Family relationships, cultural identity, memories, conflict
West Bank, Jerusalem, various Middle Eastern countries, United States
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