Tag: nikki grimes (page 1 of 1)

Words With Wings

Words With Wings is the story of Gabby, a girl who no longer seems to fit. She used to fit with her father, but after her parents’ divorce, he doesn’t live with her anymore. She used to fit with her best friend, but since the move, Gabby’s changed schools. Now she’s the new girl, the one often caught daydreaming in class.

Gabby and her father used to imagine all sorts of things together; her best friend understood Gabby. But her mom doesn’t quite: she worries about Gabby’s daydreaming and about how absent-minded Gabby has become. Nikki Grimes (At Jerusalem’s Gate) tells a beautiful story of a young girl whose imagination—once a source of play and delight—becomes a refuge from a world that seems all at once foreign and unpredictable. Told through a series of poems, Words With Wings moves in and out between Gabby’s day-to-day life and her daydreams, allowing us into her imagined worlds where anything is possible.

Words with Wings, by Nikki Grimes | Little Book, Big Story

Those around Gabby seem uncertain about whether her imagination is a gift or an obstacle to be overcome. Gabby wonders about that herself. But as a woman who was once a child like Gabby, and as a mother to children who are also an awful lot like Gabby, let me tell you: there is something beautiful about the way Grimes allows Gabby and her family to wrestle through that. She gives a name to something we don’t often know how to name, and a place for an ability people often consider frivolous. Grimes reminds us that poetry is a part of who we are.

Words With Wings
Nikki Grimes (2013)

At Jerusalem’s Gate

I finally figured out how to use our public library.

It’s been there for years—I frequented it myself as a child—and I have taken my daughters there semi-regularly since Lydia was a baby. But my approach to checking out books was haphazard at best: throw books that looked interesting in our book bag and sift through them when we got home. Return them a few months overdue, pay fines, and sheepishly avoid the library for a while. Every so often I would reserve a book, forget to pick it up, and sheepishly dodge the library again.

At Jerusalem's Gate, by Nikki Grimes | Little Book, Big Story

Something changed a few months ago, though, when I sat down to the online catalog and reserved every book I had ever bookmarked on Instagram. Every few days after that, I got an email announcing that some new book was in, waiting for me. These were the best books, the ones usually not on the shelves because their hold lists were so long they just moved from drop-box to hold shelf to somebody’s home and so on.

We found The Princess in Black this way. We discovered Mustache Baby. We checked out every available John Hendrix book this way (sorry, Whatcom County John Hendrix fans! We’ll bring them back soon, I promise).  We learned that our library cards max out at seventy-five books, and that our county actually has a pretty respectable Easter selection.

At Jerusalem's Gate, by Nikki Grimes | Little Book, Big Story

You already know how to use your library, I’m sure. I am extremely late to this particular party. But I love this party: we go to the library weekly now, collect our box full of books and go home happy, not having entered the children’s department once. In this baby-and-toddler season of life, that’s a welcome development.

But about those Easter books.

At Jerusalem’s Gate was one of my favorite library finds this Lent, a title I remember from long ago on Aslan’s Library. In a genre where every other book seems to be titled either The Easter Story or What is Easter?, Nikki Grimes gives us something unexpected: a collection of poems that branches off from the familiar story of Easter.

At Jerusalem's Gate, by Nikki Grimes | Little Book, Big Story

Grimes walks the line between Scripture and speculation gracefully: each poem explores some aspect of the story that has caught her attention—the meaning of Judas’ name, the story of Pilate’s wife, Mary’s response to the Crucifixion—while making it clear in each poem’s introduction that these are the author’s thoughts, not canon. She invites the reader into her own musings and expands the world around the well-trod path of the Gospel accounts, reminding us that actual people lived the events of Holy Week—people who wept and wondered and lived the story’s beginning, middle and end.

This book is, obviously, available at our local library, but we loved it so much that I purchased our own copy (sadly, Jerusalem’s Gate is out of print, but you can sometimes find affordable copies on Amazon). It has been a beautiful part of our family’s reading for Lent, and it’s one I’ll look forward to reviving every spring.

At Jerusalem's Gate, by Nikki Grimes | Little Book, Big Story


If you aren’t entirely smitten with this book yet, I highly recommend reading Sarah’s review on Aslan’s Library. It’s beautiful and gives a detailed look at some of the poems. You know what? You should read that review anyway, even if you’ve already put the book on hold at your library.

At Jerusalem’s Gate: Poems for Easter
Nikki Grimes; David Frampton (2005)