Away with Words by Sophie Cameron

The power of words, the joy of friendship and the struggle of adapting to a new culture are all intricately woven in this amazing book from Sophie Cameron.

Gala and her Dad have moved from Spain to Scotland to become a family with Ryan. Gala speaks Catalan and Spanish and has been learning English but adapting to life in a Scottish school means that she misses words and misunderstands statements and metaphors. She struggles to make friends and is desperately homesick for her friends and family back home.

When she meets Natalie, she notices that Natalie collects words. The very idea that words are tangible items to be collected is brilliant and it truly makes you sit up and pay attention to the story. Natalie collects words for purpose- whether for her little sister or to create poems. Gala, learning new words constantly, likes the sounds they make and is keen to learn more English words. She joins in with the collecting.

The pair form a firm friendship and begin to compose poems for classmates, especially ones who they feel “need” a poem to cheer them up, to make them feel brave or to remind them of others feelings. However, one day, a copycat poem is found and it is mean and hurtful. Over the course of a few days, more poems are sent and Gala and Natalie are framed for these.

Going from a friendship high to a pariah low, Gala is keen to find out who is writing these poems and clear their names.

Astounding bravery, loyalty and an unwavering sense of justice live in Gala and she is an admirable character. From speaking and understanding very little English to being able to stand on stage in the assembly to share their story, she is just brilliant. Natalie has selective mutism and finds speaking in school frustrating and so she saves her words for when she gets home. Gala appreciates and respects the silences at times as she too, can be overwhelmed with words.

This book will make you think about your words, their use and intent.

Powerful and beautiful storytelling!

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