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Overheard in a Tower Block

Written by Joseph Coelho

Illustrated by Kate Milner

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Overheard in a Tower Block Review

Featured Books for 7+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers Gritty Reads Poetry Poetry Books for Children

Gritty poems exploring a teen's life - some illustration - heartfelt, emotional, and heart-breaking in equal measure

UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award 2018

This second solo collection from Joseph Coelho, Overheard in a Tower Block, explores further some of the themes from Werewolf Club Rules (which won the CLiPPA in 2015).  More suited to an older reader than that first collection, this is an extraordinarily powerful and moving book.  Each poem offers us glimpses into the life of the main character as he grows, over the course of the collection, from young boy through adolescence to adulthood.  The ingenious threading of fantasy, story, myth and magic throughout the poems only illuminates further the challenges and hardships of this young man’s life, but ultimately concludes in moments of optimism, joy and possibility. 


Overheard in a Tower Block Synopsis

Gazing at the stars from five storeys up, smelling the bins from five storeys below. Overheard arguments, overheard laughter. 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.

You can read more of the poems at

Overheard in a Tower Block Press Reviews

An exciting and edgy collection - contemporary poems of family, friendship and school laced with myth and magic. -- Fiona Noble  The Bookseller

So many lines that make you pause and powerful...took my breath away.   Down the Rabbit Hole

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

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

Ingenious...Kate Milner's extraordinary line drawings express the underlying strangeness.   Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week

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

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

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

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

A wonderful collection of poems.   Carousel

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

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

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781910959589
Publication date: 06/07/2017
Publisher: Otter-Barry Books Ltd
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781910959589
Publication date: 6th July 2017
Author: Joseph Coelho
Illustrator: Kate Milner
Publisher: Otter-Barry Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 112 pages
Suitable for: 7+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Gritty Reads, Poetry, 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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