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The Girl Who Became a Tree

Written by Joseph Coelho

Illustrated by Kate Milner

Key Stage 3 Family / Home Stories Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE) Poetry

LoveReading View on The Girl Who Became a Tree

Heart-breaking, powerful, totally involving, and engrossing to read

Longlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 11-14 | Shortlisted for CILIP Carnegie Medal 2021

Joseph Coehlo is a poet who has been in the situation of ‘the one to watch’ because he has been producing lots of wonderful work that has made an impact from picture books to teen reads.  This is his most ground-breaking and powerful exploration of poetry as a form and as a story-telling medium to date.

Based on the legend of Daphne – she was a Naiad-nymph who was loved by the god Apollo who pursued her until she grew exhausted and called on Gaia for help. She was transformed into a laurel tree which Apollo then adopted as his sacred plant.  This creates a clever and intriguing interweaving of the ancient legend with the reaction and feelings of a girl, also called Daphne, who is coping with the grief caused by the loss of her father.  She turns to her phone for aid, and her local library as she tries to sort out the past and find a way to build connections again.

The verse is heart-breaking, powerful, totally involving, and engrossing to read.  The layers of meaning enlighten the story in this rich poetic exploration – a tour de force – full of energy and a rich palette of language.  

This is not to disregard the evocative and powerful illustrations from one of our most innovative and prize-winning illustrators to add stylish, edgy and thought-provoking illustrations.  The whole package is an experience that will cause discussion and deep thought in every reader.

Tricia Adams

The Girl Who Became a Tree Synopsis

Daphne is unbearably sad and adrift. She feels the painful loss of her father acutely and seeks solace both in the security of her local library and the escape her phone screen provides by blocking out the world around her.

As Daphne tries to make sense of what has happened she recalls memories of shared times and stories past, and in facing the darkness she finds a way back from the tangle of fear and confusion, to feel connected once more with her friends and family.

The Girl Who Became a Tree sees Joseph Coelho deploy a wide variety of poetic forms with consummate skill in its narration of events. He seamlessly but searingly weaves together the ancient legend of Daphne, who was turned into a tree to avoid the attentions of the god Apollo, and a totally modern tale, mixing real-life and fantasy, in which a latter-day Daphne seeks her own freedom.

This a heart-stoppingly imaginative story told in poems, at times bleak and even tragic, which is layered, rich and ultimately a tour de force of poetic skill and energy.

The Girl Who Became a Tree Press Reviews

Praise for Overheard in a Towerblock;

Sharp, disconcerting, intelligent. - Books for Keeps

Book Information

ISBN: 9781913074784
Publication date: 27th August 2020
Author: Joseph Coelho
Illustrator: Kate Milner
Publisher: Otter-Barry Books Ltd
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 176 pages
Year Groups: Key Stage 3
Topics: Death / Bereavement, Family / Home Stories, Personal Social Health Economic , Poetry

About Joseph Coelho

JOSEPH COELHO is a performance poet and playwright. He has written plays for the Polka Theatre, the Lyric, Hammersmith, and the Unicorn Theatre. He performs his poetry shows with the UK's top performance poetry organisation, Apples and Snakes, visiting venues across the UK. Joseph's poems have appeared in many anthologies, including Green Glass Beads by Jacqueline Wilson and The Works 6, edited by Pie Corbett, but Werewolf Club is his first solo collection. He lives in Folkestone, Kent.

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