OVERHEARD IN A TOWER BLOCK by Joseph  Coelho

OVERHEARD IN A TOWER BLOCK

Poems
by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 10 - 13
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

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. (Poetry. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-91095-958-9
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Otter-Barry
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2017




SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

AdultRELATIVELY SPEAKING by Ralph Fletcher
by Ralph Fletcher
ChildrenHONEYBEE by Naomi Shihab Nye
by Naomi Shihab Nye
ChildrenI'M JUST NO GOOD AT RHYMING by Chris Harris
by Chris Harris