Naomi Shihab Nye is an Arab-American author. She has a Palestinian father and an American mother. In addition to being a novelist, she is also a poet and songwriter. She considers herself a “Wandering poet”, but she currently lives in San Antonio, Texas. She started writing poetry at the age of seven. She credits her mother as a large influence in her life. Naomi would often write about the world around her. She wrote poems that covered nature, friendship, school, teachers, and animals that she saw around her.
When she was fourteen years old, Naomi moved to the West Bank with her family, although she moved back to San Antonio a year later. While there, she visited with her grandmother. This visit is the inspiration for the children’s book Sitti’s Secrets.
Sitti’s Secrets follows a young girl, Mona, when she travels to visit her grandmother, who she calls sitti, the Arabic word for grandmother. At first, they rely on Mona’s father, who speaks both Arabic and English, to translate. Soon, however, they develop a language that does not need words. Mona picks up certain Arabic words, like habibi, which means darling or beloved. When Mona and her family return home, she writes a letter to the President about how he should meet her sitti, presumably because of all of the conflict surrounding the media’s portrayal of Arabs and how they are not all bad people.
My favorite part of the book as when Mona wakes up, and she thinks about her sitti, who is just going to sleep. When Mona goes to bed, she tells her that it is her turn to experience the day, because of the time difference between Palestine and the US. I really enjoyed this book and think that it has a good message for everyone who reads it.