Lost Words cover


An Armenian Story of Survival and Hope

By: Leila Boukarim

Illustrated by: Sona Avedikian

Published: March 26, 2024

Publisher: Chronicle Kids


Words like war, fighting, and genocide are heard frequently on the news these days. Your child may ask what is happening to the kids in those countries or what genocide means. It can be hard to explain the brutality and violence that is happening and has happened in various countries.

But years ago, genocide wasn’t on the news. Families didn’t talk about war or how their families were torn apart, never to see each other again. LOST WORDS is based on the true story of the author’s family during the Armenian Genocide that began on April 24, 1915. These stories have been silent for too long. It’s time to hear their experiences.

Lost Words page spread

A young boy starts the day by making dough in the kitchen with his mom. Soon, there is a knock at the door and urgent whispers between his mom and the people at the door. Next thing he knows, his mom is telling him and his sisters to leave with these people so they can be safe. How can a child be safe without his mama?

After days, weeks, and months, they walked through the desert to safety. However his Mama still wasn’t there. He waited for her every day, but she never came. As he grew older and started his own family he still wasn’t able to share his story until many years later pinching dough with his grandson. Then he shared his story.

The author shares the history of her husband’s grandpa and his journey from Armenia to Lebanon in her author’s note at the end of the book. She includes photographs and a map of their assumed path as well. The illustrator also shared her personal family history of the Armenian Genocide. A brief history, facts, glossary, and bibliography are also included.

The realistic illustrations showcase a child who is scared and sad but also loved by those caring for him. This isn’t a happy story to share, but an important one, especially if your child has questions about what happens to families during times of war.

Leila Boukarim writes stories for children that inspire empathy and encourage meaningful discussions. She enjoys reading (multiple books at a time), embroidering, nature walking, and spending time with people, listening to their stories and sharing her own. The idea for LOST WORDS came to her when her son asked, “Where are we from?” It took her four years to write it, but she is so glad she did. Leila lives in Berlin, Germany, with her husband, two kids, and her cat/office mate, Dill. You can find out more at her website, HERE.

Sona Avedikian is an Armenian illustrator born in Beirut, Lebanon, and currently based in Detroit, Michigan. She loves creating vibrant work and often takes inspiration from Armenian art and architecture. You can find more of her work, HERE.

To purchase a copy of LOST WORDS, click HERE.

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.

Check out my review policy, HERE.

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