In which I share a story gift: "The Girl with Wings" : for all my children

Storyteller and author George Shannon told me a bare-bones version of this story in 1995. He said that a friend sent it to him on the back of a postcard, and he didn't know what to do with it.

I know what to do with it: tell it. share it. live it. give it away! I've been telling this story for that many years; it is always my most-requested tale.

The Girl With Wings

Once there was born a girl with wings.


Can you imagine it?

Of course, at first the wings were just tiny stubs, barely visible at all, but very soon it was apparent to everyone: this girl had wings.

The neighbors came to visit, as neighbors will do, and when the neighbors saw the wings, they were appalled.

“What a horrible disfigurement for such a beautiful baby!” said the neighbors. “Of course you will have them removed immediately!”

But the parents said that they were content to wait and see.

And they sent the neighbors away very politely.

The child grew, as children will do, and she learned to smile and she learned to crawl.

The wings grew too, and sprouted pretty white feathers.

And the neighbors returned, as neighbors will do.

And when the neighbors saw the wings, the neighbors were dismayed.

“You’d best be clipping those wings,” said the neighbors, “so that they don’t get in the way of that child as she grows.”

But the parents again said that they were content to wait and see what happened.

And they sent the neighbors away again, a little more firmly this time.

The child grew, as children will do, and she learned to crawl and to walk and to run and to ride a bicycle.

And the wings grew too, and trailed behind her in a blaze of white and gold feathers that shone in the sun.

And the neighbors returned, as neighbors will do.

And the neighbors were very distressed by the wings.

“She’ll be starting school soon, and if you don’t bind those wings back tightly, we’re afraid that the other children will tease her because she looks so different. We don’t understand why you haven’t done this before!

"We are only thinking of the child’s welfare—what can you be thinking?”

“Actually,” said the parents, “we were thinking of teaching her to fly.”


  1. Cool, very cool - I'm loving your stories!

  2. Loved that one for sure!!! I can't wait to show it to my mom (also a storyteller) as she is here visiting!
    Happy Holidays

  3. When I was in junior high school I read a book about a kid who got some magic potion. When he rubbed it on his shoulders, he sprouted large, blue wings. He would fly out his bedroom window at night and have all sorts of fun. I can't remember the title and I've been looking for the book for years!

    Thanks for the story. Very nice.

  4. Moon Over Martinborough:
    I think your book is Black and Blue Magic by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.

    Here's the blurb:
    "You'd think that someone with a name like Harry Houdini Marco would be deft and skillful, but Harry could only occasionally catch even an easy fly ball without making some dumb error. On top of that, most of his friends' families were moving to the suburbs. It would have been a long, dreary summer, but then a Mr. Mazeeck showed up and turned out to be more than he seemed."

    This now classic book was first published by Atheneum in 1966. It was selected by Scholastic Books for inclusion in the Arrow Book Club and later republished in a Dell Yearling edition in 1988.

    It's been reprinted and your local independent bookseller should be able to find a copy for you!

    Yes, I'm a librarian. It shows?

  5. What a magical story - far too many people want to clip the wings of children "lest they get hurt".

    Would that we'd all send away the neighbors...

    I'm sending this link to my niece.


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