I'm feeling the love...
Last week, my Five for Friday party was the best yet. With twenty Valentine kisses collected on one page, it was heartwarming to see the delicious variety of lip-smacking ditties. If you participated or visited, thank you! And if you haven't read all twenty, I invite you to go bask in all the smoochy goodness.
Today I am sharing the kiss of a special book--
Nikki Grimes' Words with Wings.
Words with Wings
Wordsong, September 1, 2013
Words with Wings is the story of Gabby, a girl who is prone to daydreaming, and her teacher, Mr. Spicer, who helps her to channel her imagination's wanderings. I love how this book celebrates creativity, friendship, and a child's indomitable spirit, and also showcases the talents of an exceptional teacher. Narrated in verse that is beautiful, accessible, and above all, honest, these are adjectives that can also be used to describe the author of this well-crafted story.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Nikki Grimes in person. The event, which included a reading and an opportunity for questions, was sponsored by our wonderful local Friends of the Library volunteer organization. (Let's hear it for community book lovers!)
Of course it was wonderful to hear Nikki read her own words, but what I enjoyed even more was the discussion that followed-- getting to know this award-winning poet on a more personal level, discovering the connections between Nikki's own childhood and that of main character Gabby, hearing Nikki's thoughts on the best way to teach poetry (NOTE TO TEACHERS: "Do not present poetry as castor oil!"), and the whole Q&A smorgasbord of poetry, process, and publishing.
I appreciated Nikki's honest and approachable rapport with the adults in the audience, but what struck me most was the way she responded to children's questions. Maybe I'm imagining it, but I'd swear I saw a twinkle appear in her eye. This was also my 11-year-old daughter's impression when Nikki Grimes visited her school the following day. She was captivated by Nikki's presence, by the way she drew her into the story with her compelling reading-- using not only the words, but the pauses in between, and by the way Nikki made her feel "special" and "important" just because they were together at that moment in time.
Children are Nikki Grimes' number one priority. Her books are the angels that sit on kids' shoulders, telling them, no, you are not alone.
Here is one of my favorite pieces from Words with Wings, used with the author's permission:
The kids at my last school
called me weird,
and teased me,
or left me to myself.
Except for Cheri,
who picked me
to sit next to
just because she saw me
staring out the window
and was dying to know
what made me smile
when all she saw
I was shy about
telling her at first,
but Cheri didn't mind
She was color-blind, but said
whenever I described
it was like
helping her see
-Nikki Grimes, all rights reserved.
Thank you, Nikki, for helping others to see the rainbow as well.
It's always beautiful weather for poetry! Please pay a visit to Karen Edmisten who is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup.