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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Words with Wings, written Nikki Grimes. Wordsong, Raincoast. 2013. $19.95 ages 10 and up

"I am perfect.
I stare straight
at the blackboard,
catch every single syllable
that falls from
Mr. Spicer's lips,
pass the pop quiz,
and still have
enough time left
to be bored."

Gabby loves to daydream. It makes every day for her better. That daydreaming helps her through having to listen to her parents' arguments, and escalates when her father moves out. Now, Gabby lives with her mother, who is in no way a dreamer. It is a difficult existence.

Living with her mother, visiting her father all the way across town, and attending school where her inattention is causing her even more grief, she finds the days endless. Gabby is not only a dreamer, she is a gifted poet. She shares her feelings with us.

"Nothing New

One or two hellos
greet me
at the classroom door.
I know not to expect more.
No one wants to be friends
with the weird girl.
I pass by rows of desks,
a make-believe grin
hiding my hurt.
Most days,
I'm an A+ pretender.
When I'm not
I just crawl
into my daydreams
and disappear."

You want to know Gabby. She speaks the truth. Her poems are a celebration of her days, her family, her dreams.

Meeting Mr. Spicer is the kind of experience I wish every single child who attends school might have. He has expectations of Gabby for school, and he ensures that she has time to daydream and write every single day. It is a curriculum change that impacts every student in his class.

The awe I feel for Ms. Grimes and the other incredible poets who write for our children never diminishes. Rather, it grows exponentially when we have the chance to read such beauty in words.
I will leave the last to Gabby:

"It's Here!

Tomorrow arrives
like a miracle.
Even so, the class creeps by
slow as the night
before Christmas.
I can't wait to open my
notebook and jot down
whatever daydream
comes to me.
I peek at David,
who shrugs in answer
to the question in my eyes:
Finally, Mr. Spicer says,
"Okay. Class, workbooks shut.
It's daydream time."
I'm telling you,
I just about cry."


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