Words with Wings

( 2 )

Overview

Gaby daydreams to tune out her parents’ arguments, but when her parents divorce and she begins a new school, daydreaming gets her into trouble. Her mother scolds her for it, her teacher keeps telling her to pay attention, and the other kids tease her...until she finds a friend who also daydreams and her teacher decides to work a daydreaming-writing session into every school day. With a notebook “thick with daydreams,” Gaby grows more confident about herself and her future. This verse novel poignantly celebrates ...

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Overview

Gaby daydreams to tune out her parents’ arguments, but when her parents divorce and she begins a new school, daydreaming gets her into trouble. Her mother scolds her for it, her teacher keeps telling her to pay attention, and the other kids tease her...until she finds a friend who also daydreams and her teacher decides to work a daydreaming-writing session into every school day. With a notebook “thick with daydreams,” Gaby grows more confident about herself and her future. This verse novel poignantly celebrates the power of writing and the inspiration a good teacher can deliver.

A 2014 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Through 70+ poems, Grimes introduces readers to Gabriella, a city girl who’s prone to daydreaming, frustrating her mother and alienating Gabby from her classmates. Several poems bring readers directly into Gabby’s daydreams, as she explains how a single word can set her mind whirling: “Say ‘concert,’/ and I’m somewhere/ in the past,/ sprawled out on the grass/ in Central Park,/ my head cozy/ in Mom’s lap,/ her head cozy/ on Dad’s shoulder.” Grimes packs substantial emotional heft into her poems, especially the way that Gabby’s parents’ separation weighs on her. Eventually, the right teacher and the right friend provide the support and encouragement Gaby needs, and even her mother’s attitude softens. Although Grimes hits the “importance of dreaming” theme a bit hard, her poems lovingly convey the rich inner life (and turmoil) of a girl in the process of finding her voice. Ages 8–12. Agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

* ". . . Grimes has written a novel in verse that is an enthusiastic celebration of the power of words and imagination. . . Always accessible, Grimes' language is vivid, rhythmic, and figurative. . . Grimes' words speak to the daydreamer in every reader." --Booklist, 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. . . 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 

" . . . Grimes packs substantial emotional heft into her poems, especially the way that Gabby's parents' separation weighs on her. . . her poems lovingly convey the rich inner life (and turmoil) of a girl in the process of finding her voice." --Publishers Weekly

School Library Journal
11/01/2013
Gr 4–8—In this brief, free-verse novel, readers meet Gabby, whose imagination is fueled by "words with wings that wake my daydreams." Her daydreams have provided solace from her parents' arguments, but now her father has moved out and her parents are getting a divorce. At school, she finds it hard to make friends and avoid being labeled the weird girl who zones out in class. Gabby's dad is a daydreamer, too, but her practical mom chides her for not paying attention, and Gabby longs to win her mother's approval along with that of her teacher, Mr. Spicer. Gabby's struggles to stay focused in school will resonate with many youngsters, as she tries to: "…catch every single syllable that falls from Mr. Spicer's lips, pass the pop quiz, and still have enough time left to be bored." Most readers will recognize Gabby in someone they know, and this well-crafted tale should have wide appeal. With its focus on creative wordplay and imagination, it could also be an inspiring resource for creative-writing teachers.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
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. (Poetry. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590789858
  • Publisher: Highlights Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2013
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 109,052
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 850L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Her books include the New York Times best seller Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope and the Dyamonde Daniel chapter-book series. She won the Coretta Scott King Award for Bronx Masquerade and earned a Coretta Scott King Author Honor three times—for Jazmin's Notebook, Dark Sons, and The Road to Paris. Grimes lives in Corona, California.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 27, 2013

    A beautifully executed book where the words really do have wings

    A beautifully executed book where the words really do have wings and fly. This book works so well in verse, because the topic and main character lend themselves to such poetic words and thoughts. Great for kids working on poetry in school or who love poetry in general.
    I received a copy of this book as a judge for the Cybils awards. Opinions are strictly my own.

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  • Posted September 19, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Nikki Grimes' novel in verse is a celebration of imagination sur

    Nikki Grimes' novel in verse is a celebration of imagination sure to inspire young dreamers everywhere and to encourage their teachers and parents to help them harness that creative energy and turn it into a passion they can pursue with confidence. Perfect for reading aloud with third and fourth graders, Words with Wings takes the fears and hopes of one child and spins them into a story for children of all ages. Grimes is particularly adept at packing vivid imagery and powerful emotions into very few words. Reluctant middle school readers may also enjoy this easy and engaging read. (This review is based upon the ARC I received at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago)

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