Gazing at the stars from five storeys up,
smelling the bins from five storeys below.
A disappearing father and a Mermaid-Queen mother; statues that sing for flesh and blood; bullies who kick you under the table; perfect red trainers - and the things that lurk in the library....
Award-winning poet Joseph Coelho's astonishing new collection is a powerful and moving poetic narrative about growing up in the city.
Publisher: Otter-Barry Books Ltd
Number of pages: 112
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm
"A collection that will excite, intrigue and stretch teenagers and that offers a lot of scope for classroom discussion."* IBBY Link *
"This slim volume of more than four dozen poems of varying lengths charts the narrator's course from childhood in low-income urban housing to adolescence to young adulthood and fatherhood.The unnamed narrator personifies the unforgiving public-housing tower block as a "zombie" hungry for human lives and memories. He dodges a bully in "Smashing Snails in the Rain" and overhears an "Argument": "The monster / With a roar made up of shouts," whose "jaws snap / Like slamming doors," and whose "claws clatter / Like kitchen drawers." His father gives him the perfect pair of red sneakers in "Trainers." These shoes return many times across the collection, acting as a possible symbol of the boy's hero worship of his often absent father. As the boy enters his teens, he goes from confident to awkward to embracing the changes his body experiences in "Man...I Had It Made." In later poems, he has his first kiss, gets exam results, and leaves home for the first time. He becomes a father, "whose heart thumps solely for his / daughter." Poetic forms vary, with some rhyming and others not. Readers may have difficulty understanding the trilogy of sophisticated poems based on the myth of Prometheus. Race is not mentioned, and the flat, unemotional black-and-white sketches provide few clues.It may take readers a few rounds to fully appreciate and understand the loose, unassumingly sophisticated narrative that joins the poems."* Kirkus Reviews *
"Rich with metaphor and secret meaning, his poetry is deeply welcoming, and his sensibility is both mythic and urban."-- Imogen Russell Williams * Guardian - Fresh Voices: 50 Writers You Should Read Now *
"A very clever and poetic mood [is] conveyed by these pages."* BookBag *
"Joseph Coelho is a notable newcomer, touching on subjects ranging from the hungry mouth of a communal chute bin, devouring the disappointments of its residents, to mythical transgressions."-- Imogen Russell Williams * Times Literary Supplement *
"[The author] has surpassed himself with this breathtaking collection of poems for older children. Kate Milner's black and white illustrations perfectly enhance the narrative. This collection will stay with you always."* CLPE Books of the Year *
"A stunning - and stunningly illustrated by Kate Milner - poetry collection. You can dip in and out of it ('City Kids' is my current favourite) but there is also a narrative vein running through it. It is powerful and atmospheric, and has true 'crossover' appeal." -- Clare Pearson * Achuka Best Books of the Year *
"Ambitious in theme, the everyday experiences of an urban childhood are made extraordinary here through astute observation and dexterity of word play...Each poem offers a childlike vantage point, but collated together there are profound comments about the nature of late childhood, its shift towards adulthood, responsibility and the continuing role it exerts in determining and defining our lives.-- Jake Hope * Achuka Best Books of the Year *
"Finally, something slightly different. I think publishers and bookshops are missing a trick with poetry. They seem to stock poetry collections for younger children and adult poetry from the historical to the contemporary. Where is the poetry for young adults? Beyond the bookshops, there is a dynamic and diverse spoken word scene, young people articulating their lives and experiences through rhythm, rhyme, lyricism. These are poems about childhood belonging, separated families and the stories we build when there are gaps we can't know. My teenage daughter and I have read them together. "-- Patrice Lawrence's Top 5 Young Adult Reads of 2017 * Waterstones *
"Children's poetry is booming and Joseph Coelho's Overheard in a Tower Block skilfully describes deeply felt experiences and personal observations so that we can all share the emotions."* Books for Keeps Book of the Year *
"A wonderful collection of poems."* Carousel *
"Growing up on an urban estate in a tower block is not a comfortable experience. Joseph Coelho's poems are not comfortable. They are sharp, disconcerting, intelligent. They are also quite often humorous. They pinpoint experiences, emotions, the immediate, as he charts living in this world. Running through all the poems is a young boy's sense of dislocation in a fractured family. There are recollections of school, of friendships, of holidays, of a first kiss. These are poems to explore, to discover and to savour because they will not always reveal their secrets immediately - but they are well worth it. The experience is enhanced by Kate Milner's clever vignettes that mirror the awkwardness, the curiosity and vigour of the boy. Congratulations to Otter-Barry Books for bringing us this collection."* Books for Keeps Editor's Choice & 5 Star Review *
"Every poem in this anthology gives the reader pause for thought: whether it's an idea to contemplate; an image that lingers or word play that delights, Coelho's touch is totally assured."* Reading Zone 5 star review *
"Joseph Coelho brings the city to life through the eyes of a child in his moving collection of poems. The poems deal sensitively with a range of themes, from broken families and bullying to the power of stories to take you beyond the city to another world. An accessible and relevant book of poems to accompany children as they grow up."* Scotsman *
"Recounting the childhood of a child living in a city tower block, many of these poems are sad or angry and bristle with an edginess that young teens may find refreshing when compared to other poetry aimed at them. The content is current, personal, moving and needs saying."* Book Trust Best Books for August *
"Ingenious...Kate Milner's extraordinary line drawings express the underlying strangeness."* Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week *
"Award-winning poet Joseph Coelho's astonishing new collection is a powerful and moving poetic narrative about growing up in the city, excellently set off by Kate Milner's black and white drawings which capture the spirit of the poetry."* Parents in Touch *
"Joseph's verses, illustrated beautifully by Kate Milner, really capture how your childhood imagination adapts and fits itself around your (sometimes grim) surroundings. A superb slice of urban life, depicted from many different points of view."* Read It, Daddy *
"So rich...so many lines that make you pause and stop...so powerful...took my breath away."* Down the Rabbit Hole *
"An exciting and edgy collection - contemporary poems of family, friendship and school laced with myth and magic."-- Fiona Noble * The Bookseller *
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