Reviews /

Our Tower

Authored by Joseph Coelho
Illustrated by Richard Johnson
Published by Frances Lincoln

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The front cover of Our Tower is intriguing. Three children are walking away from a tower block across wet grass towards…what? Where are they going? There are trees and looming darkness ahead of them, lit only by mysterious drops of light which beckon the children into the wood. The first few pages feel daunting. Rain drenches the soaring concrete blocks of flats as three small figures walk home. But then we see three children looking from windows at the top of tower; they are not at all daunted. They can see trees away beyond the tower blocks. One in particular is a magnificent tree which seems to be gazing up at them. Together, the three children set off to find it. Their search takes them on a surreal journey into a woodland underworld where they see and hear spellbinding sights and sounds. Empowering experiences beneath the ancient tree enable the children to realise that their boring, grey tower is a place of security and love. Their tower may be a concrete block, but its community makes it beautiful.

Written by Joseph Coelho, the new Waterstones Children’s Laureate, and stunningly illustrated by Richard Johnson, this book is a gift to all teachers of literacy and literature. As one would expect from Coelho, the written text is lyrical. When the words combine with Johnson’s images, a form of intertextual magic is created that spans centuries of stories. Readers may find whispers of ancient Greek mythology, the Green Man, nursery rhymes and other ageless tales which have been told from generation to generation. In a nod to 20th and 21st century technology, readers may also find The Iron Man lurking in the background.

Our Tower can be shared with any learners (from 3 to103), either purely for pleasure or as part of a study of mystical narratives. Coelho has dedicated it to children everywhere who have lived, or live now, in tower blocks. He grew up on a high-rise estate in SW London that is adjacent to an extensive royal deer park beside it, consequently, much of the book is based on his own experience.

Read for Empathy Collection

This collection is available from our bookselling partner Best Books for Schools