Word After Word After Word, by Patricia MacLachlan, is, technically, a children’s book. I was charmed by the synopsis when I first came across it while browsing my library’s online ebook collection:
Every school day feels the same for fourth graders Lucy and Henry and Evie and Russell and May. Then Ms. Mirabel comes to their class—bringing magical words and a whole new way of seeing and understanding.
From beloved author Patricia MacLachlan comes an honest, inspiring story about what is real and what is unreal, and about the ways that writing can change our lives and connect us to our own stories—word after word after word.
But when I dived into the book, I discovered that Word After Word After Word is really, at its very heart and soul, a book for anyone who’s a writer, anyone who’s ever wanted to be a writer, and anyone who’s ever wished they could be a writer, but felt writing to be out of reach.
Ms. Mirabel is a famous author who comes to visit and teach the children for six special weeks. And what she ends up teaching them all, even Miss Cash, the fourth grade teacher, is something so magical and so wonderful.
She teaches them the beauty, the magic and yes, the accessibiilty of words. She shows each of the main characters how they are writers at heart, and in doing so, she shows us, the readers, how we, too, are all writers at heart.
I cried at times while reading, sometimes because some of the children’s personal stories and writings were so poignant, other times from the sheer joy I felt from reading the book itself.
And most of all, I remembered: I remembered why it is that I love to write. I remembered the magic of playing around with words. I remembered how it felt, eight years old, a new blank notebook in front of me, pen in my hand, words in my head. And I remembered that feeling of writing down word after word after word.
“And what is the writer’s tool in all of this? Making people laugh, or cry, or be angry, or think?”
The class was silent, staring at Ms. Mirabel.
Henry’s voice was soft in the room.
“Words,” he said.
Ms. Mirabel looked as if she might cry. Her eyes gleamed.
“Yes,” she said. “Magical words. Word after word . . .”
“After word,” we all finished together.
The copy I read was an ebook copy from the library, but this book is now on my list for my next online book shopping spree. And when it comes, I will eagerly read through it, pen in hand, marking all the lines that really spoke to me.
And when I’m done, each page will shimmer with all the colors of the gel pens I’ll use.
“Remember this if you remember anything from our time together,” said Ms. Mirabel. “Writing . . . is . . . brave. You are brave.”