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Naomi Shihab Nye [More of Naomi's Books]
19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East


"We start out as little bits of disconnected dust."

A collection of poems about peace, family, and being an Arab-American. This book is a love letter from Nye to her family, inspired by and as a result of the September 11 terrorist attack. Says Nye in her introduction, "If grandmothers and children were in charge of the world, there would never be any wars."
Ages 10 Up

Come With Me: Poems For a Journey


"To the quiet minute between two noisy minutes
It's always waiting ready to welcome us
Tucked under the wing of the day
I'll be there
Where will you be?"

Soft, gentle, thought provoking poetry.
The art, by Dan Yaccarino, was created as collages using mixed media.

Ages 5 Up (2000)


Age: YA - A

A stunning collection of free verse poetry from 140 famous and not so famous poets with poignant black and white photos by Michael Nye.

It is important to point out that loss is not necessarily a bad thing...

Shedding Skin

Pulling out of the old, scarred skin
(old rough thing I don't need now
I strip off
slip out of
leave behind)

I slough off deadscales
flick skinflakes to the ground

Shedding toughness
peeling layers down
to vulnerable stuff

And I'm blinking off old etelids
for a new way of seeing

By the rock I rub against
I'm going to be tender again

--Harryette Mullen

What have you Lost? A wallet?, Aa memory? A year? Stuff? A loved one? I highly recommend this book for your personal library.

NOTE: A good follow-up book is
Lost & Found


A gathering of poems, new and previously published works from 130 poets and visual artists born or living in 20 Middle Eastern and North African countries.
Order: Hardcover


A Bilingual Gathering of Poems and Stories from Mexico With Paintings by Mexican Artists.
Order Hardcover


An enchantingly mysterious bedtime book. Mama sings a lullaby to her child about a rabbit, chicken, lizard and turtle--as they bid a fond good night to a sleepy house and quiet town and climb aboard the lullaby raft. Full color.
Order Hardcover


An anthology of poetic voices from over 60 countries who share universal feelings and events.
Order: Paperback

An Excerpt from the Introduction to "The Space Between Our Footsteps" by Naomi Shihab Nye

As an Arab-American child growing up in the United States, I never read anything remotely connected to my father's first culture, except perhaps "The Arabian Nights." This book hardly felt much like our lives.

Luckily, I had a fair imagination and our Palestinian father was a wonderful storyteller. Every night my brother and I drifted off to sleep wrapped in the mystery of distant neighbors, villages, ancient stone streets, donkeys, and olive trees. Our house by day was fragrant with cardamom spice and coffee, pine nuts sizzled in olive oil, and delicious cabbage rolls. My girlfriends brought iced cupcakes to Girl Scouts for treats, but I brought dates, apricots, and almonds. Arabic music on scratchy records filled the air in our home.

I wasn't yet sure where the sense of other began in the human heart or how many variations and shadings the larger family could contain. But I didn't fear differences. In fact, I loved them. This is one of the best things about growing up in a mixed family or community. You never think only one way of doing or seeing anything is right.

After beginning high school in jerusalem, which altered my perception of the universe irrevocably, then returning to the States to live in Texas, I began reading books by Khalil Gibran, one of the best-selling authors of all time.

Teenagers often identify with his ruminative tone, lyrical philosophies, and eloquent sense of contradiction. I used to smuggle "The Prophet" into my homemaking class wrapped in the denim dress I was sewing. I would read it between stitches....

Once my husband Michael and I were sleeping soundly in our room in an old downtown hotel in Aleppo, Syria, when the water in our bathroom sink turned on by itself. I woke gradually to the gush of a waterfall, the encroaching roar of a fountain, and couldn't imagine where the sound was coming from.

Slowly my eyes adjusted to the stream of water pouring from the edge of the sink onto our bathroom floor. It rolled river like into the bedroom so the rugs beside our bed were already soaked. I leapt into the bathroom and attempted to turn off the water. The faucet spun uselessly in my hand. How had this happened? Did our room have ghosts?

I grabbed the telephone. But my SOS Arabic at 1:00 a.m. wasn't very good. Soon the groggy desk clerk appeared at our door with a pitcher full of drinking water, thinking I'd asked for some. When he saw the sea growing rapidly around us, he awakened quickly, racing back to the old-fashioned metal-cage elevator with its ornate grillwork.

He returned soon with a mop, a bucket, and a basket of rags and the three of us set to work, joined in our cause, until Michael pointed out it might be a good idea to turn off the water valve under the sink. We'd all been too sleepy to think of it.

The valve was stuck. The clerk ran for pliers. What happened next was like a dance, three people mopping, dipping, laughing, wringing out the rags, soaking our pajama cuffsand socks.

We fell asleep again. At 4:30 a.m. our telephone rang and the clerk, now our good buddy, said someone was downstairs waiting for us. A plumber? We hadn't been expecting anyone.

We dressed hurriedly and rode the clanky elevator down. A tall red-haired man shook our hands and introduced himself as Adlai Qudsi, architect and preservationist, who had come to give us a sunrise tour of his beloved city. We did not tell him we had already been up half the night, nor did we have the slightest inclination not to follow him.

He took us first to the famous citadel which towers over Aleppo like a castle with its fortress-wall. We could look down over the twinkling city from there. He took us walking in careful single file along the edges of rooftops to a sitting spot where we could watch the sky ease gently into its early, perfect pink. Who was this person who would dream up such an outing for people he didn't even know? He shrugged, I heard some visitors were in town. I thought you might like to see something special. He showed us exactly where to gaze to get the best views of sky and buildings and land.

After sunrise, he knocked on doors in the Old City. Sleepy women wearing flowery aprons let us in. They obviously knew and respected Mr. Qudsi. He wanted to show us how the soft early light fell through their high arched windows, illuminating blue and green mosaic tiles. He wanted us to see a three hundred year old fountain in a courtyard. Light fell onto its tower like a glittering top-hat. When we sat with Mr. Qudsi in a cafe for breakfast tea, we told about our water escapade and he grinned. I'd much rather have old pipes than new buildings! he said proudly.

This is what I want a book of poems and paintings to be--a surprising spring waking us from our daily sleep. A feast of little dishes. An unexpected walk along the rim of a majestic city. "Ahlan Wa Sahlan"--You are all welcome!

Naomi Shihab Nye San Antonio, Texas
(Used with permission from Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.)

Honeybee: Poems and Short Prose
Honey. Beeswax. Pollinate. Hive. Colony. Work. Dance. Communicate. Industrious. Buzz. Sting. Cooperate.

Where would we be without them? Where would we be without one another?

In eighty-two poems and paragraphs, Naomi Shihab Nye alights on the essentials of our time—our loved ones, our dense air, our wars, our memories, our planet—and leaves us feeling curiously sweeter and profoundly soothed.
--HarperCollins Publishers (2008)
Ages 12 and up