Author Kao Kalia Yang and Illustrator Jiemei Lin Share the Struggle of Finding One's Voice in the Powerful Picture Book Memoir The Rock in My Throat

Minneapolis, Minnesota, Feb. 27, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- This March, Carolrhoda Booksâ, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group, presents The Rock in My Throat by award-winning author Kao Kalia Yang and illustrated by Jiemei Lin. This true story captures the heartbreak and hope of Kao Kalia Yang’s experiences as a young Hmong refugee navigating life at home and at school with selective mutism.

At first, no one notices that Kalia has stopped speaking. Having seen the poor treatment her parents received when making their best efforts at speaking English, she no longer raises her voice at school. Kalia feels as though a rock has become lodged in her throat, and it grows heavier each day. She struggles to get through her days at school and play with her classmates. Although the narrative is somber, it is also infused with moments of beauty, love, and hope. An author’s note from Kalia reflects on how and why she became a selective mute and reassures readers that she eventually found her voice. Stunningly detailed, full-color illustrations from debut illustrator Jiemei Lin add layers of emotion to the story.

The official book launch for The Rock in My Throat will be held at Mall of America in the Huntington® Bank Rotunda on March 5, 2024, with presales starting at 3:00 PM. A reading with both the author and illustrator will begin at 5:00 PM, accompanied by the premiere of a composition by Jocelyn Hagen especially written for The Rock in My Throat. Yang and Lin will be available for signings after the reading. Barnes & Noble will have copies of The Rock in My Throat available for sale at the event.

Praise for The Rock in My Throat:

"A heartfelt story that teaches children about diversity and reflects difficulties with being different, understood, and accepted."—starred, Booklist

“Yang's poetic prose sings in perfect unison with Lin's gorgeously textured illustrations, rendered in earthy tones . . . A powerful window into the perspective of a young immigrant."—Kirkus Reviews

"Yang traces a Hmong-speaking child's experience of selective mutism. . . Lin's digital illustrations employ scale and perspective to smart effect."—Publishers Weekly

"Tenderly told in first person, Yang's lyrical autobiographical picture book depicts her childhood struggle with selective mutism. Her descriptions of how selective mutism presents at school are vivid and authentic. . . Lin's earth tones and muted colors reflect Kalia's affinity with the natural world."—The Horn Book Magazine

About the Author and Illustrator
Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong American writer, teacher and public speaker. Born in the refugee camps of Thailand to a family that escaped the genocide of the Secret War in Laos, she came to America at the age six. Yang holds degrees from Carleton College and Columbia University. Her work includes creative nonfiction, poetry, and children's books such as A Map into the WorldThe Shared Room, and From the Tops of the Trees. Her work has won numerous awards and recognition including multiple Minnesota Book Awards, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor, an ALA Notable Children's Book Award, the 2023 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, Dayton's Literary Peace Prize, and a PEN USA Award in Nonfiction.

Jiemei Lin is an artist born in Hangzhou, China, currently living and working in the Inland Northwest, Washington State. Lin works with both digital media and traditional media to create paintings, murals, and illustrations. Lin's mission as Illustrator is to represent and communicate with all audiences from underrepresented groups in her own visual language. As a public artist, Lin has been designing and executing large-scale public murals in both the pacific and inland Northwest.

About the Publisher
Carolrhoda Booksâ, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group, has been publishing high-quality, award-winning books since 1959. Our picture books spark children’s imaginations and offer new ways of looking at the world. Our middle-grade books stand out not only for their quality, but also for the breadth of genres encompassed, from coming-of-age stories to exceptional nonfiction to mysteries. Carolrhoda authors and illustrators have been honored with awards such as a Caldecott Honor, the Coretta Scott King Book Award, the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal, and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. We believe that all children should be able to find themselves in the pages of a book.

Find us on all social media platforms at @LernerBooks and look inside at

The Rock in My Throat
March 2024
$18.99 Hardcover, Jacketed
eBook Also Available
Ages 5 - 10
HC: 978-1-7284-4568-7
32 Pages ● 9 1/4 x 11


The Rock in My Throat The Rock in My Throat Book Launch

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