Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Our Building by Joseph Coelho

It was the cover that caught my attention on today's read. The colors happen to be one of my favorites when it comes to color schemes (no, I don't use these together very often but just smile when I see them). Add the curious looking threesome and there's the promise of adventure. The ebook is already available and the hardcopy will be release around the beginning of August.

by Joseph Coelho
Illustrated by Richard Johnson
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Picture Book
48 pages
ages 4 to 8

This magical story follows three children living in a high-rise apartment block, as they embark on a fantastical adventure which helps them see their home in a new light.

A deeply personal story written by the award winning poet Joseph Coelho, drawn from his own experience growing up in an apartment block and looking for adventure. This story is a celebration of, and a reclaiming of high-rise apartment blocks as a place where magic and adventure can happen.

It’s a modern-day fable that shows the children of an apartment block travelling to a strange, magical world inside a tree and meeting an old man with supernatural powers, only to realise that the magic they’d been looking for had been in their block all along.

Beautiful illustrations complement the poetic narrative, creating an enchanting story which children and adults alike will fall in love with.

This powerful story is about how society separates ‘urban’ spaces from the countryside, but the reality is that nature is everywhere, and everyone should have access to it. 

GOODREADS    /     QUARTO    /     AMAZON   /     B&N


Like falling into a day-dream, this tale slides smoothly into the world of fantasy to create an enchanting adventure.

The apartment building is gray, but then, so are the streets and everything surrounding it. If the children gaze out of their windows, they can see the leaves of a large tree in the distance. And there's a rustling song. No one seems to notice it but them. One day, they decided to head out and find the tree. Considering how far away it is, it's quite the adventure. What they discover is something more magical than they ever imagined.

This is a beautifully illustrated picture book, which follows a poetic atmosphere and glides on the blurred lines between reality and fantasy. The children live in a high-rise apartment building, which is presented as cold and gray with people caught up in the monotone of their lives. The atmosphere hits with weight, especially since the illustrations present the city on a rainy day. Only the kids bring color, and this slowly builds to contrast against the gray, depressing scenes right along with their adventure. When they arrive at the forest, the colors take over. What first begins as simple trees, takes a very imaginative turn...and then, after heading into sheer fantasy, settles back into reality as they return to the city and bring a new perspective with them. It is a well-arced tale, which invites to dreams and demonstrates how life appears heavily depends on the perspective.

The illustrations are enjoyable to visit all on their own, and the text adds the details and understanding. Much of the tale is told in four-lined verse, but sometimes more and others less. For the most part, these flows smoothly. The phrases are kept fairly short and bring across each moment with lyrical atmosphere. While most verses are very understandable for even the younger listeners, as the tale progresses, deeper meaning slips in to give slightly older readers a bit more to think about. Some more impatient listeners might get fidgety at the pacing of the poetic flair, but others will enjoy the dive into the imagination and gaze through it long after the story is read.

And here they are...

JOSEPH COELHO is the Waterstones Children's Laureate 2022-2024. In 2019 he won the Independent Bookshop Week Picture Book Award for If All the World Were which has been translated into over 10 languages. He has been long-listed for The Carnegie Children's Award with his poetry collection 'Overheard In A Tower Block', which was also shortlisted for the CLPE CLiPPA Poetry Award and Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards. He won the 2015 CLPE CLiPPA Poetry Award with his debut poetry collection Werewolf Club Rules. His debut Picture Book, Luna Loves Library Day was voted one of the nations favourite picture books by a survey led by World Book Day. His other poetry books include How To Write Poems and A Year Of Nature Poems .

He has written plays for companies including: Soho Theatre, Polka Theatre, The Unicorn Theatre, Theatre Royal York, Oily Cart and The Spark Children's Festival to name a few. 

Joseph has been a guest poet on Cbeebies Rhyme Rocket, Radio 4's Poetry Playtime and Front Row. He is the presenter of BBC's Teach Poetry (Oct 2018) and features in DiscoveryEDUK's Poetry Curriculum.

Richard Johnson is an illustrator whose picture books have been published by Penguin, Faber & Faber, Macmillan, DK, and many others. His work is deeply thoughtful and conjures up powerful atmospheres with detailed, delicate pencil strokes.

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