Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Words with Wings

Words with Wings

Nikki Grimes
For ages 9 and up
Boyds Mills Press, 2013   ISBN: 978-1590789858

After her parents get a divorce, Gabby and her mother move to a new home across town. Hating having to say goodbye to friends and worried that she won’t find new ones, Gabby does what she so often does. She takes a break from the world and dives into her imagination and daydreams. Gabby’s old friend Cheri never minded Gabby’s daydreaming and Gabby fervently hopes that her new school will have “a Cheri who’ll think daydreamers are cool.”

   Gabby’s daydreaming began when her parents started fighting. Trying to lock out the sounds of raised voices, Gabby wished that she could “fly away” and the word fly seemed to transport her into a daydream where she was flying to her grandmother’s house where there are no shouting parents.

   Since that moment certain words seem to send Gabby off to another place, into a daydream where happy things are happening. She drifts into daydreaming moments all the time, exasperating her mother and her teacher.

   Gabby realizes that she is a “dreamer” like her father and she is not much like her mother, who is a “maker.” Would it be possible to combine being a maker and a dreamer? Gabby wishes she could please her mother and knows that her mother wishes Gabby where more like her, more practical and down to earth. Eventually, Gabby’s daydreaming costs too much and she decides to set it aside. No more “word-journeys for me,” she thinks. The problem is that being a “Girl robot” does not suit Gabby, and not having her daydreams makes her very unhappy.

   In this extraordinary book Gabby’s story is told using a series of poems. The first person narrative poems are interspersed with poems that describe the daydreams that Gabby has. It is interesting to see how her daydreams fill her life, until she forces them to cease, and how this deprivation makes her whole life sad, bland, and boring.

   Readers who have a love of the written word will greatly enjoy reading this remarkable book.