Mina is worried about starting kindergarten in her new country. Everything is different and confusing and at first the only words she can understand are her own name. As she spends more time in school, the noises and sounds around her become less confusing and her understanding grows. Her dreams become calmer, and she practises the exciting new words and sounds at home; ‘when she said the word ‘squirrel’, her tongue tumbled and turned like a somersault and tickled her mouth!’
Her new friends and teacher help her and Mina’s grasp of the new language grows until she realises that it now also belongs to her and she is soon confident enough to welcome the next new arrival to the school.
The author of the book is an experienced linguist and has done extensive research into multilingualism in childcare and educational settings. Lars Baus’ lively illustrations were created using water and acrylic paints, as well as digital methods. The early monochrome pictures give way to increasingly vibrant colours as Mina’s understanding grows and each page holds an array of intriguing pictures and ideas to discuss with a young audience, many of which will be familiar to children also facing new and daunting situations. With the growing arrival of many non-English speaking children into UK schools, Mina’s experience is a wonderful way to build empathy in young readers and this uplifting story of a migrant’s journey to understanding and belonging would be a great addition to any younger years’ classroom.