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Words with Wings
Words with Wings
Buy this paperback book
at your favorite bookseller:
Bookshop (local booksellers)
Barnes & Noble
Words with Wings
Buy this hardcover book
at your favorite bookseller:
Bookshop (local booksellers)
Barnes & Noble

Words with Wings

paperback, Wordsong, September 6, 2022
ISBN: 978-1635924787

hardcover, Wordsong, September 1, 2013
ISBN: 978-1590789858


Gabby's world is filled with daydreams. For her,

"Some words
sit still on the page
holding a story steady ...
But other words have wings."

Now, what began as an escape from her parents' arguments has taken over her life. But with the help of a new teacher. Gabby the dreamer might just become Gabby the writer. Written in vivid, accessible poems, this verse novel is a celebration of one girl's indomitable spirit and of a teacher's ability to reach out and change a life.


Missing My Old School,
My Old Life, My Old Family

Some days
sad is a word
I can't swallow.
It swells inside my throat
until it's stuck.
I hurry home from school
and beat Mom there.
The second she arrives,
I crawl onto her lap
like when I was little.
She holds me, quiet,
and strokes my hair.
I stay there
til the sadness shrinks
and I can breathe again.


Children's Literature Assembly, 2014 Notable Children's Books in the English Language Arts, National Council of Teachers of English
Coretta Scott King Author Honor book
Junior Library Guild
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2013
Lee Bennett Hopkins/Penn State Award master list
Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award finalist, 2015-2016
Mighty Girl "75 Mighty Girls Books for Tweens’ Summer Reading List"
Nerdy Book Club finalist
Nevada Young Reader Award Finalists for the Young Reader 2016
Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading Elementary Book Award finalist


starred review In this delightfully spare narrative in verse, Coretta Scott King Award–winning Grimes examines a marriage’s end from the perspective of a child. Set mostly in the wake of her father’s departure, only-child Gabby reveals with moving clarity in these short first-person poems the hardship she faces relocating with her mother and negotiating the further loss of a good friend while trying to adjust to a new school. Gabby has always been something of a dreamer, but when she begins study in her new class, she finds her thoughts straying even more. She admits: “Some words / sit still on the page / holding a story steady. / … / But other words have wings / that wake my daydreams. / They … / tickle my imagination, / and carry my thoughts away.” To illustrate Gabby’s inner wanderings, Grimes’ narrative breaks from the present into episodic bursts of vivid poetic reminiscence. Luckily, Gabby’s new teacher recognizes this inability to focus to be a coping mechanism and devises a daily activity designed to harness daydreaming’s creativity with a remarkably positive result for both Gabby and the entire class. Throughout this finely wrought narrative, Grimes’ free verse is tight, with perfect breaks of line and effortless shifts from reality to dream states and back. An inspirational exploration of caring among parent, teacher and child—one of Grimes’ best. —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

starred reviewGabby, named for the angel Gabriel, is a daydreamer, and words fire her imagination, creating new worlds for her to inhabit. After her parents separate, and Gabby must go to a different school, her daydreams become increasingly vivid, intruding on the realities of classroom and schoolwork. To Gabby’s occasional puzzlement, her mother worries (“Mom names me for a / creature with wings, then wonders / what makes my thoughts fly”), but her wonderful new teacher is more patient, wisely helping her capture her daydreams on paper and inspiring a new dream to become an author: “Dad is a dreamer / and Mom is a maker. / I’ve been thinking, / maybe / I can be / both.” Grimes, recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, has written a novel in verse that is an enthusiastic celebration of the power of words and imagination and a dramatic demonstration that daydreamers are, as Gabby hopes, “cool.” Always accessible, Grimes’ language is vivid, rhythmic, and figurative: Gabby says her dreams, are “fancy dancing in my mind,” for example, and thoughts of a circus are a “trampoline to the big top.” Plain or fancy, Grimes’ words speak to the daydreamer in every reader. —Michael Cart, Booklist, starred review

Grimes packs substantial emotional heft into her poems ... her poems lovingly convey the rich inner life (and turmoil) of a girl in the process of finding her voice. —Publishers Weekly

“The imagery in her work is brilliantly captured with spontaneous, concise, illuminating language.” Read the review in its entirety. —Michael Strickland, Young People’s Pavilion, Yahoo! Voice


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