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Sitti's Secrets

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  219 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
When Sitti, an American girl, goes to visit her grandmother in her small Middle Eastern village on the other side of the world, they don't need words to understand each other's heart. Full color.
Paperback, 32 pages
Published October 1st 1997 by Aladdin (first published March 1st 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 524)
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Lisa Vegan
Oh, I wanted to like this more than I did. And, as of now, Goodreads members have rated it 50% 5 stars, 32% 4 stars, and only 17% 3 stars, no ratings of 1 or 2 stars only. So, I’m in a minority in my lack of enthusiasm.

I thought that the illustrations were lovely.

I enjoyed learning a bit about life “on the other side of the world” and thought that information, about the earth and the cultural differences, was interesting and informative for those who don’t know about them.

But the story was so h
Mar 03, 2010 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
"Sitti's Secrets" is a touching and beautifully told story about a young American girl and her grandmother who lives in Palestine--a gentle message of love that transcends generations and international borders, and of the importance of peace. The illustrations are wonderful--full of texture, vitality and gentleness.

The only aspect of the book with which I am not completely satisfied is the letter that the little girl writes to the President at the end of the book. When she returns from visiting
Rebecca Owen
Sep 19, 2010 Rebecca Owen rated it it was amazing
Like Habibi, this book is based on Nye's childhood, and there are many parallels between the two books, making it seem like a prequel for younger audiences. It tells the story of a little girl whose grandmother lives “on the other side of the earth” (Sitti 3). When she goes to visit her, as in Habibi, they don’t speak the same language so they communicate through the girl’s father, and with each other in their own language of miming. She plays marbles with her cousins, where they didn’t need wor ...more
Paul  Hankins
"My grandmother lives on the other side of the earth. . ."

Naomi Shihab Nye's picture book about a young girl meeting her grandmother is beautiful in prose as we might imagine it in one of Naomi's poems.

Because they do not speak the same language, the granddaughter and grandmother speak through the girl's father, but Naomi's description of the grandmother's voice is powerful:

"Her voice danced as high as the whistles of birds. Her voice giggled and whooshed like wind going around corners. She ha
Whitney Rachel
May 06, 2014 Whitney Rachel rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely beautiful. The language is descriptive and captivating and I don't mean for a picture book. As a piece of writing, regardless of the intended audience,the language in this book is superb.
The illustrations are fantastic, as well. The warm colors and rich hues are reminiscent of my short stay in the Middle East. The subtle political message of the book is effortlessly executed and deeply powerful. LOVED IT!

Why don't more books like this exist?
Sep 10, 2014 franciszka rated it it was amazing
this is one of my most absolute favorite books in the entire world ever.
it's beautiful.
beautiful. beautiful.

while lots of other reviews call out the 'peace' or 'no war' message as out of place, for me - it's where the book bursts into the thing about it that i hold closest to my heart. it has everything to do with the relationship between sitti and her grandmother and the way we inherit not only the blood of our family but also the stories of survival.
Carol Royce Owen
Aug 02, 2015 Carol Royce Owen rated it really liked it
A wonderful book for teaching diversity with beautiful language (but of course - it's Naomi Shihab Nye). Having just met her and having the opportunity to hear her, I could hear her voice throughout this book, especially with lines like "Her voice danced as high as the whistles of birds. Her voice giggled and whooshed like wings going around corners. She had a thousand rivers in her voice."
The only thing that was a bit disjunct, and I felt would need some explaining to students was the fact that
Jan 31, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing
This is such a cute book I cry almost every time I read it. Very telling about the struggles of being cross cultured and of living in exile away from your home.
Jul 09, 2010 Tracy rated it liked it
I would love to give this book 4 or 5 stars. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful and interesting to look at. The story is interesting in telling about how Palestinian life is so similar, but yet also so different from life in the U.S. I teach a lot of students that could relate to Mona, who does not get to see her grandmother very often because they live in different countries. The reason why I gave it 3 stars instead of 4 or 5, though, is that there were a couple of pages toward the end ...more
Feb 24, 2011 Nancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-eastern
Published: 1997, Four Winds Press
Age: 4-8
This is a sweet story of a little Palestinian girl named Mona who lives in America and goes to visit her grandmother (“Sitti”) in Palestine, (“On the other side of the earth.”). She doesn’t speak Arabic so at first her father translates for them and eventually they create their own language with signs. Mona tells the things she sees and food they eat and the traditions the people keep such as the traditional dress and walking to the spring for water. Mona
Cindy Benabderrahman
Apr 19, 2009 Cindy Benabderrahman rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with a grandmother
Mona’s sitti, or grandmother, lives all the way on the other side of the great, big world, and there are many things dividing them—physical things like oceans and land and “fish and cities” and “clotheslines /and trucks” and “a million trees,” just to name a few. But there are also other things that separate—like language. Mona and her Sitti don’t even speak the same language. But when Mona goes to visit her Sitti, they are able to communicate through Mona’s father, and Mona likens the sound of ...more
Shayne Cope
Mar 30, 2014 Shayne Cope rated it it was amazing
Interesting multicultural book. Could be very identifiable for some children. Great for teaching diversity. There is a great relationship between Sitti and the granddaughter. I enjoy that though they speak different languages, they have their own way of communicating.
T. Denise
Feb 22, 2009 T. Denise rated it really liked it
I though Sitti's Secrets was a wonderful story about the union of two worlds that seem farther apart than they truly are. Mona is a young girl who adores her grandmother, or her Sitti. This is a picture book that shows how language can be a barrier, or opportunity, depending on how it is used. Sitti and Mona live thousands of miles apart.

Despite the distance, Mona is still able to connect with her and display affection and love for her grandmother. This is a great story for children who have ext
Jan 25, 2016 Robynn rated it really liked it
Written by the poet Naomi Shihab Nye. An American girl visits her Palestinian grandmother across the Atlantic for the first time. Wonderful illustrations.
Jun 18, 2014 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Just say YES to this awesome picture book that portrays Arabs and Arab-Americans in a positive light. We need more books like this. #weneeddiversebooks
A beautifully descriptive story about a young girl who goes to a mid-east country to visit her grandmother. The writing and illustrations create wonderful descriptive imagery to paint a picture of the landscape and daily life. I loved the map on the end pages to show the distance between Sitti and her grandmother.

At first, I wasn't sure what I thought about the "letter to the president" at the end of the book. It initially felt contrived and a bit didactic. On the other hand, it introduces chil
Jessica Lauber
Jul 27, 2016 Jessica Lauber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great word choice and writing details. Figurative language. Multicultural. Important message of peace.
Mar 14, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
I personally loved this book, but I'm not sure how it would go over in a classroom of 5th graders - especially boys. I think the girls would love it, and I would definitely consider using this book as a mentor text for a girl's discussion group. The illustrations were beautiful, and transcended all the topics of each page. Some events were often hidden in the overall illustration of the page. I also thought the letter to the President was an interestingly awkward ending.
Sep 26, 2008 Shawna rated it it was amazing
My reading of this was colored by my own upbringing and the recent loss of my own "sitti." I thought this was well-composed for kids age 5+. It's a fantastic introduction to families between cultures. I love that the main character can't speak the same language of the family she is visiting "on the other side of the earth," but that doesn't stop her from communicating or connecting. This is a story about how love isn't contained by boundaries and how home is with family.
Jan 06, 2014 Jennv716 added it
Recommends it for: teachers as a read a loud
Recommended to Jennv716 by: MCPS
This is a sweet story about a little girl who visits her Muslim arabic-speaking Grandma. I ldid not like the political twist at the end though. It wasn't necessary.
Kelci Cox-Griswold
Feb 06, 2013 Kelci Cox-Griswold rated it really liked it
Shelves: family, culture
This would be a good book to teach children about different cultures. (Arabic) The little girl's grandmother lives all the way across the world from her. She goes to visit her, but they don't speak the same language. They find their own ways to communite and have a nice visit. When the little girl returns home she writes to the president for peace.
Jul 01, 2012 Dolly marked it as to-read
This story was selected as one of the books for the March 2010 - Outstanding Women reads at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads.
Elizabeth Root
Nov 02, 2010 Elizabeth Root rated it really liked it
THis story is about a granddaughter who lives far away from her grandmother. The granddaughter ends up visiting her grandmother, and learns her way of life across the world. The story discusses the difference in culture and lifestyle. It is important for students to make connections, and to realize the importance of family.
Daryl Muranaka
Dec 04, 2013 Daryl Muranaka rated it really liked it
My daughter brought this to me to read to her. Even though it's a bit beyond her (she's 3), she understood many of the sentiments (her grandmother also lives on the other side of the world) and she enjoyed it enough for it to be read many times over the past couple of months. I highly recommend this children's book.
Amber Cooper
Loved this multicultural book about a young girl visiting her grandmother in the Middle East. The culture and language is difference but they share family and love. Wonderful illustrations and story-lines. Great for elementary grades, middle grades to upper elementary, due to cultural words and content.
Jul 23, 2012 Suzy rated it it was amazing
A truly lovely picture book that depicts a Palestinian-American child who goes to visit her grandmother in contemporary Palestine. Though the grandmother speaks only Arabic and the child only English, their loving relationship transcends the language difference.

I love Naomi Shihab Nye's work.
Oct 01, 2008 Rachel rated it liked it
Recommends it for: children, families, cool adults
Recommended to Rachel by: Judy Leavell
Shelves: kiddos
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Season Neal
Jan 29, 2012 Season Neal rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A very cultural story about an American girl, Sitti, who goes to visit her grandmother in the Middle East. Apprehensive at first, Sitti seems nervous uncomfortable at the beginning of her trip, but learns quickly how interesting and enlightening her grandmother's home can be.
Mrs. Downs
GR Level: L

Elementary: E NYE

This is a story about a girl who has visited her grandmother on the other side of the globe. She can't communicate with words, but she and her grandmother create their own language and have a great bond develop.
Sep 25, 2010 Deanna rated it really liked it
This is such a wonderful book about a girl and her grandmother. They live in the opposite parts of the world. She cherishes the time she get to visit her with her father. It is a heartwarming story, that has the theme of peace threaded throughout.
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Naomi Shihab Nye was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother. During her high school years, she lived in Ramallah in Jordan, the Old City in Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas, where she later received her B.A. in English and world religions from Trinity University. She is a novelist, poet and songwriter.

She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas. She was elected a Chancellor of the Acad
More about Naomi Shihab Nye...

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