Kirsten has a hard time in her new American school because she doesn't speak English very well. Miss Winston, her new teacher, is strict and not very understanding. Things get worse when Miss Winston comes to live with the Larson family. Kirsten's only escape is playing with her secret friend Singing Bird, the Indian girl. When Singing Bird suggests running away forever, Kirsten must decide where she belongs. Kirsten does learn some important lessons in school, but she learns something even more important about herself.