Now, each year on Beverly Cleary’s birthday, April 12, (and throughout the month of April) kids and adults are encouraged to Drop Everything and Read! (Mrs. Cleary celebrated her 99th birthday this year!)
The book I read for D.E.A.R. Day turned out to be a fantastic one. Thank you, Renée LaTulippe, for bringing it to my attention!
Title: girl coming in for a landing: a novel in poems
Author: April Halprin Wayland
Illustrator: Elaine Clayton
Publisher: New York: Dell Yearling (an imprint of Random House), 2002
Genre: Late MG/Early YA fiction, novel in poems
Audience Age: 12 and up
Themes/topics: Teenage years, writing, personal growth
In the middle of the night
I turn on my light
then slowly peel
off layers of me
with the press of each key.
Synopsis: In evocative, moving poems that read like the diary of a young teen, the reader experiences one year in the teen’s life. We see her up-and-down relationship with her older sister, her first crush, her first boyfriend, her struggles to fit in and her angst when she doesn’t, and always, her writing and how it helps her make sense of her world and her life.
Unlike most novels in verse, which may have chapters of several pages written in free verse, this is a collection of poems, some very brief, others longer, one even based on a Shakespearean sonnet. Separately, they would be insightful, moving poems. Together, they tell a story as surely as would prose, or pages of free verse.
As the jacket copy says, “with an authentic voice full of wit and insight, girl coming in for a landing is just like high school: impossible to walk away from unchanged.”
For Further Enrichment: The best place to start for further enrichment is the author’s website. Since one of her great aims in life is to encourage others to write, especially kids/teens, there are writing tips, poetry exercises, and a list of publishers looking for poems by young writers. Check it out!
Teens who love to write might be interested in the blog Teens Can Write, Too.
Emma Walton Hamilton is Executive Director of an exciting program for young writers in the Southampton area of Long Island, Young Artists and Writers Project (YAWP). Perhaps there’s a similar group in your area. Check with your local writers’ guild.
Availability: Unfortunately, this wonderful book is out of print. Look for it at your library!