Why do people write? To express themselves? To reach others? To inspire? Whatever the reasons, five fourth graders in Miss Cash’s class are about to get the lessons of their lives—courtesy of visiting author Ms. Mirabel.

Ms. Mirabel brings with her not only a melodious name and ebullient spirit, but what she calls “magical words.” And BFFs Lucy, Henry, Evie, Russell and May are spellbound—both by having such an interesting visitor and by learning how to tell their own stories, word after word after word.

“I, myself, write to change my life, to make it come out the way I want it to,” Ms. Mirabel tells the kids. But she encourages them to find their own words and their own reasons for putting pen to paper. Words have power, but it’s up to the writer to find the right ones for them.

One of the kids faces family relationship issues. Another deals with a serious family illness. All of them, however, share their stories underneath the lilac bush at Henry’s house after school. And that’s where the magical words fill their notebooks with the poems and prose that reflect their own lives.

In Word After Word After Word, Newbery Medal winner Patricia MacLachlan weaves a gentle, funny story about five friends, their camaraderie and the words that ultimately stir each of them. Ms. Mirabel’s encouragement is a timeless—and well-stated—lesson in creative writing.

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