cover image GIRL COMING IN FOR A LANDING: A Novel in Poems


April Halprin Wayland, , illus. by Elaine Clayton. . Knopf, $14.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-375-80158-7

Adopting the voice of a sensitive girl approaching adolescence, Wayland (It's Not My Turn to Look for Grandma!) fashions a sequence of poems unfolding over the course of a school year. The speaker takes on such topics as kissing games, crushes and close relationships ("Leslie sprinkles my path/ with wonders/ under the grin/ of the moon"). Toward the end of the collection, she shares the excitement of having her first poem published ("I woke up early,/ my body buzzy/ like a playground ball boing-ing down a long hallway"). While Wayland essentially captures the truth of the age, the poems themselves are uneven. Memorable images and sweet sentiments coexist with well-worn observations (addressing her older sister, the narrator says, "I still sometimes/ want to be you./ Did you/ ever want to be/ me?") and some preciousness ("Carlo plays cello. He's mellow./ Frank's full of drama and trauma." While the novel-in-verse format has been more effectively deployed elsewhere (e.g., Sonya Sones's What My Mother Doesn't Know or Virginia Euwer Wolff's Make Lemonade and True Believer), this work succeeds in making reading and writing poetry more accessible to teens who may otherwise find these tasks intimidating. Wayland's endnote includes specific suggestions for writing and submitting poems, noting that her Web site lists places where young writers can get published. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)