My Words Flew Away Like Birds by Debora Pearson, illustrated by Shrija Jain

My Words Flew Away Like Birds by Debora Pearson, illustrated by Shrija Jain. Kids Can Press, 2021. 9781525303180

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  A young girl moves to Canada from somewhere else. Before she moves she knows her world: her friends, trees in her neighborhood, her school, and the market. Most of all she knows words: her words. When she moves to another country, all of a sudden words don’t make any sense. She feels them skipping and flowing around her but she can’t figure out what they mean, and when she can, she doesn’t know what to say back. Finally, she finds a friend who helps her find her words.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I loved it. In an nondidactic way, this was a sweet and thought-provoking book about moving and language and what we don’t understand and what we do.

To whom would you recommend this book?  I would recommend this book to classrooms welcoming new students who speak a different language.  Pair it with Islandborn by Junot Diaz and Dreamers by Yuyi Morales for some great discussions about what it means to be the newcomer.

Who should buy this book? Pre-schools, grades K-5 and anyone working with newly arrived populations.

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Pam WattsFlavin, Head of Children’s Services, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: October 21, 2021

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