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.
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)