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Sitti's Secrets

Sitti's Secrets

5.0 1
by Naomi Shihab Nye, Nancy Carpenter (Illustrator)

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An Arab American girl visits her Palestinian grandmother, her Sitti, and finds that they don't need to speak each other's language to understand each other's heart.


An Arab American girl visits her Palestinian grandmother, her Sitti, and finds that they don't need to speak each other's language to understand each other's heart.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
The gulf between Mona and her Palestinian grandmother, Sitti, is extensive. They don't speak the same language, eat the same foods, or wear the same clothes, and their countries are far apart. The evocative illustrations reinforce these differences. But the really important parts of life-love and sharing-overcome these barriers of language, culture, and distance. Mona grows to love her grandmother. When she returns home, she writes a letter about her grandmother to the President of the United States and asks for peace.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-When Mona travels from her home in the U.S. to visit her grandmother's small Palestinian village on the West Bank, she must rely on her father to translate at first, but soon she and Sitti are communicating perfectly. With verve and a childlike sense of wonder, Mona relates some of the sights, sounds, and tastes she is introduced to as well as ``the secrets'' she learns from spending time in the wise, elderly woman's company. Upon her return home, Mona writes to the president describing the woman and expressing her concerns about the situation in her homeland. ``I vote for peace. My grandmother votes with me.'' says Mona. The simple, poetic text is accompanied by exquisitely rendered mixed-medium paintings. They are suffused with the light and colors of the desert, and incorporate subtle and evocative collage touches. A story about connections that serves as a thoughtful, loving affirmation of the bonds that transcend language barriers, time zones, and national borders.-Luann Toth, School Library Journal
Hazel Rochman
"Sitti" means "grandmother" in Arabic, and in this lyrical picture book an American child misses her grandmother who lives in a Palestinian village "on the other side of the earth." The child remembers when she visited Sitti. They didn't speak the same language: at first they talked through her father, who spoke both English and Arabic, and then they invented their own language with signs and hums and claps. She remembers the house and the countryside, the culture and the clothes, and the intimacy of brushing Sitti's hair. She also remembers the painful leave-taking ("Even my father kept blowing his nose and walking outside"), and back in the U.S., she writes a letter to the President: "If the people of the United States could meet Sitti, they'd like her, for sure." Carpenter's paintings show the physical bond between child and grandmother when they're close and their imaginary connection when they're far away from each other. Like the human embrace, the pictures flow with soft curving lines of clothes and hills, birds and sky, all part of the circle of the rolling earth. There are too few books like this one about Arabs and Arab Americans as people. Nye edited the powerful global poetry collection for older readers, "This Same Sky" (1992); that title applies here, too, showing that "people are far apart, but connected." Every child who longs for a distant grandparent will recognize the feeling.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Publication date:
Aladdin Picture Books
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Nancy Carpenter is the prolific illustrator of Apples to Oregon, Abe Lincoln, and Fannie in the Kitchen, as well as several other titles published by Simon & Schuster. She also illustrated Sitti’s Secrets, which won the Jane Addams Picture Book Award. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Sitti's Secrets 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful story of how communication and understanding can take place between strangers who think they do not speak the same language. Sitti and her grandmother reach beyond words to communicate and create a lasting bond. This is a story that is perfect for today's children who need to see how we can understand those who seem to be so very different from ourselves and that we can find wonderful secrets and memories to share.