“When an unnamed protagonist leaves her home country for an English-speaking one, the words she’s always relied on fly away, leaving her silent and a little bit lonely.

Practicing English in her original home left her unprepared for both how quickly people speak and how much slang they use. From the teacher’s lecture to the voice on the intercom, everything feels impossible to understand. Words, however, are not the only source of her confusion. When she gets lost at school, the teacher calls the protagonist the “new girl,” even though she is who she’s always been—it’s everything else that’s new. The girl misses her friends, wishing she could tell them about all the new things she’s seen, like snow, and dogs wearing boots. Eventually, she is able to make a new friend—and when she does, her words, slowly, come back. This warmly illustrated picture book adeptly captures the experience of moving to a new country and learning a new language. The narrator’s struggle and her slow but steady adjustment to her new home perfectly balance optimism and realism. The book’s watercolor-and-ink drawings evoke a world that feels simultaneously diffuse and sharply defined, thereby serving as a wonderful parallel for the narrator’s experience. All characters have paper-white skin and black hair; the narrator wears her hair in two puffy pigtails, and her new friend wears hers in a pageboy. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A frank and optimistic picture book about learning to live in a new language. (Picture book. 3-8)” – Kirkus

MY WORDS FLEW AWAY LIKE BIRDS by Debora Perason and illustrated by Shrija Jain will be publishing from Kids Can Press on October 5, 2021.

Debora is represented by Amy Tompkins.