Girl Coming In For A Landing is a wonderful book of poems by April Halprin Wayland, with illustrations by Elaine Clayton. It is subtitled “a novel in poems” since the poems describe one complete school year in the life of one young girl.
The girl is at that early stage in life where every experience is new and filled with emotions. Later in life it is easy for us forget just how dramatic the life of a young person actually is.
The schoolgirl who is the subject of the book, is also working on developing her talent as a writer and poet. April Halprin Wayland’s poems give some of the best descriptions I have ever read about what it is like to be a writer. Her poem entitled simply, “Writing Poetry” describes the process as;
“In the middle of the night
I turn on my light
then slowly peel
off layers of me
with the press of each key.”
These are poems of every day in the life of an ordinary girl, that remind us that no life is ordinary to the person actually living it.
A poem entitled “It Was Nice Kissing You” describes the devastating moment when the girl realizes the boy she is crazy about does not feel the same way about her.
‘It was nice kissing you.’
I just knew that all the space in the world
wouldn’t be enough for him
and as close as he could ever come
be close enough for me.”
The illustrations by Elaine Clayton fit in perfectly with the poems. They are a combination of doodles and fantasy drawings that express the full range of jumbled emotions running through the girl’s mind.
This is a beautiful book that reminds the reader of the vulnerability of those early school days. As we get older, we put up walls to protect us from potential emotional hurt. This book makes the reader remember that while those walls do their job, they also seal out some of the joy of life.